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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Students start club to help raise awareness for women’s equality

In early September, when sophomore Allison Hartley saw a poll on Instagram posted by junior Jolyn Tran that asked if anyone would be interested in starting a feminism club, Hartley had already been in the process of applying to start one. Hartley then reached out to Tran, and the two decided to join together and start GirlUp.

Hartley attended a summer camp at Stanford this past summer run by an organization called GirlUp, a United Nations Foundation group that works closely under the UN Women entity.  There, Hartley learned about women’s empowerment and was inspired to start a chapter of the larger organization here.

The GirlUp club will coordinate with GirlUp clubs from other schools. The club will also invite guest speakers as well as encourage members to participate in the Women’s March on Jan. 20.

The club will meet during lunch in Room 406, the room of their adviser, English teacher Emily Wu.

Hartley and Tran said the club will follow a few basic requirements from the UN Foundation, like participating in the GirlUp community and in fundraiser challenges.

This year, some of the club’s goals are to help bring education to women who aren’t provided with it through fundraisers for supplies and feminine products, which will be donated to women who can’t afford them.

Sophomore vice president Manasi Garg, aware that not all women have access to feminine products, said that all “deserve to feel like they’re being taken care of and to feel clean.”

Garg also believes that there is a reason behind the high cost of feminine products — one of the many issues the club aims to look at throughout the year.

“The industry seems to be taking advantage of women who will undoubtedly buy feminine products [even when they are] are overpriced,” Garg said. “It ultimately is a form of discrimination.”

Tran and Hartley don’t want to limit these fundraisers and supplies drives to local communities. After researching the poor state of women’s education in developing countries, Tran and Hartley saw that there was yet another opportunity to help empower women by planning to participate in the “Give her a Future” fundraising program for refugee women in Uganda. The United Nations, aided by GirlUp, runs “Give Her a Future,” which raises money for uniforms, textbooks and education to donate to Ugandan girls in refugee settings. In an effort to make a change, the club will attempt to raise money and awareness.

Other important issues the club wants to tackle are topics like body positivity, payment inequality and taxation of toiletries. Garg said that these topics are not given enough thought, when in reality, they are significant issues.

Despite the name, GirlUp isn’t solely aimed at girls. Tran said that she’s found that many boys she has talked to didn't fully understand what feminism is.

“They were very afraid about the idea of feminism and thought it was when girls hate men,” Tran said. “I thought it would be really great for our school to develop the knowledge of what feminism is.”

The lack of understanding surrounding feminism motivated Tran and Hartley to start a club that teaches girls and boys alike that feminism isn’t a bad thing.

“We are not a man-hating group at all,” Hartley said. “In fact, a bigger goal for us would be to encourage guys to join our club also.”

Above all, Hartley and Tran said, they are starting GirlUp to help change important issues they care about.

“I think there are some really relevant issues because it applies to half of the world,” Hartley said. “So if everyone could help out, that’d help make a difference.”

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