Campus News

New student organizations advocates for young women in developing countries

Girl Up, UW-Madison plans to support adolescent girls in developing countries through a variety of fundraising and social events on campus.

Girl Up, UW-Madison plans to support adolescent girls in developing countries through a variety of fundraising and social events on campus.

Image By: Morgan Winston and Morgan Winston

UW-Madison students now have the opportunity to join a student organization that aims to support and bring awareness to the education, health and safety of young women all over the world.

Girl Up, UW-Madison — a new chapter of the United Nations Foundation-partnered Girl Up Club — plans to support adolescent girls in developing countries through a variety of fundraising and social events on campus. According to UW-Madison senior Jennifer Torner, the club’s president, the group hopes to create an inclusive community on campus where students can discuss “issues that affect girls globally.”

Torner, an international studies major, got the idea to establish the club on campus from her interest in the United Nations. She said that she always wanted to join a club that helps disadvantaged girls, but was waiting for one to come to campus.

“I have been interested in the organization for a while and was just sitting back and thinking, ‘Well, maybe someone else will start something like this that I can get involved in,’” Torner said. “[I started the club] because I think the whole premise is really interesting, and I think it is a really important thing that people need to get involved with.”

Although the club was established during the first week of classes, it has already attracted more than a dozen members. UW-Madison student Emily Tomashek said she heard about Girl Up clubs at other universities and was excited when she saw it was being brought to campus.

“I joined this organization because I want to help other girls in need,” Tomashek said. “I know firsthand the importance of education and strong female role models in a young girl’s life, and this club works to bring those things to girls all over the world who need it.”

The organization’s first event — set for Oct. 11 — will deal with advocacy for women’s education. According to Torner, there are currently bills in the U.S. House and Senate focusing on women’s education. The group will be writing letters and making phone calls to their representatives in an attempt to inform them about the importance of women’s education.

Along with fundraising and advocating to help young women in developing countries, Torner said she has plans to eventually have an impact on girls in the Madison community.

“One of my long term goals for the club is to establish some sort of volunteer group that does help with tutoring for young girls in the community,” Torner said. “We can help our community as we are also helping the broader global communities.”

Aili Tripp, UW-Madison’s Gender and Women’s Studies department chair, commended the new organization's goal. She said it is important for young girls to think critically about the problems in the world and to develop a wide variety of leadership skills.

“It is important to recognize that there are many efforts and struggles to improve the condition of women going on around the world, and it is up to us to support them and not to come in with an attitude of ‘saving’ the world's women,” Tripp said. “It is encouraging to see women on campus joining organizations to try to make a difference in this world.”

Girl Up, UW-Madison’s kickoff meeting will be held Sept. 26. A location for the meeting has not yet been determined.

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