For the girls around the world
UB Girl Effect aims to raise money for women’s education worldwide
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
It starts with the choice to make a difference in someone else’s life. It then becomes a movement to change the lives of those suffering through destitution. That’s what the UB Girl Effect does – help those young girls in third-world countries obtain an education and better lives.
UB Girl Effect, a subchapter of the national Girl Effect, is an activist club that strives to promote female education in third-world countries. After forming as a temporary club last year, Girl Effect hopes to not only raise money but to raise awareness throughout campus.
Today, there are more than 600 million girls living in developing countries and about one quarter of those girls are not in school, according to girleffect.org. UB Girl Effect wants to change those statistics.
After being introduced to Girl Effect two years ago, sophomore political science majors Kerry McPhee and Samah Asfour knew they wanted to start a club that raised awareness about the problems girls in developing countries face on a daily basis.
With the addition of Meghan Young, a senior political science major, and Samantha Vranic, a sophomore political science major, UB Girl Effect was formed.
“Now that you learned about it, the next step is to take action,” McPhee said. “And that’s what the club is for – to take action …We want to motivate and inspire people to let them know that they can be the change that they wish to see in the world.”
Whether the club is tabling in the Student Union, holding bake sales or selling raffle tickets, Girl Effect raises money for a purpose: to make sure girls around the globe have access to quality education.
UB Girl Effect has met its share of criticism, however, according to Asfour. The club is frequently asked why they solely focus on the education of girls and not boys.
When a girl in a developing country is educated, according to Mcphee, she gives back to her community and then her community gives back to its nation, which contributes to the success of the entire world. It’s all one full circle, McPhee said – a circle all Americans should be concerned with.
To Asfour, the education of a girl has a much greater effect on a community.
“Because when you educate just a boy, you’re educating just one person,” Asfour said. “When he becomes a father, it’s most likely that he’s going to educate his sons. Looking at the other side, though, if you educate a girl, when she becomes a mother, she’ll make sure that her sons and her daughters are educated and that will just continue on from generation to generation and the new cycle [will] continue.”
According to girleffect.org, an educated girl will invest 90 percent of her future income into her family; a boy will only contribute 35 percent. These girls are more likely than boys to be uneducated, married at a young age and exposed to HIV.
Marriage at a young age is something that resonates with Asfour.
Asfour’s parents are both from Palestine, and she’s a first-generation American. Many of her family members still live there.
“My grandmother, my mom’s mother, got married at 12,” Asfour said. “I could’ve been that girl. Things are changing now and getting better and people are continuing their education, but it still relates to me. That could’ve been me. And I have first cousins who still live [in Palestine]. The majority of my family still lives there. They were just not necessarily forced to drop out of school. It’s just for them, the culture would be just to get married, to become a mother, to have kids and not finish your education. It’s so sad.”
With such a large international student population, almost every UB student is connected to the issue of third-world girls’ education, according to Asfour.
The name of the club can be misleading, according to Asfour, but UB Girl Effect is not just for girls – it’s about girls.
“You do not have to be a girl to join,” Asfour said. “It’s just the idea that the effect that a girl has on her country. The country and poverty and getting out of destitution – that’s the idea of the Girl Effect.”
Alice Johnson-Hales, a freshman social sciences major and member of the club, heard about the club from a flyer in the bathroom. She had no idea what the club did, but the title intrigued her. After researching Girl Effect, Johnson-Hales was excited to find out this new group revolved around promoting girls’ rights.
Johnson-Hales feel fulfilled as a member of Girl Effect – knowing she’s able to do her part aiding those less fortunate than herself.