By Muniza Siddiqui
Shaila Lothe, an IB junior, created the event, Girl Up RVA where girls of all grade levels gathered at the Libbie Mill Library to discuss female empowerment. The Girl Up club is not only about helping people in the community, but also adolescent girls around the world who do not receive the same resources as girls living in the United States.
At the event, the audience was shown a powerpoint filled with information to raise awareness about the fight for equal opportunities as far as education goes. After the presentation, guest speakers shared their views on the topic.
Elena Brooks-Perkins, the volunteer coordinator for Safe Harbor, an organization that helps women recover from domestic violence, spoke first. Brooks-Perkins spoke about the signs of an abusive relationship and the effects that such a relationship can have on the victims. Safe Harbor has a website specifically for teenagers which discusses dating abuse for teens. Go to loveisrespect.org to get information on dating abuse.
Next, Bonnie Davis, a journalist for the Richmond Times Dispatch, gave a speech entitled “Staying Grounded While Moving Mountains.” Davis shared her own experience with her daughter from birth to age 28. She concluded her speech with some words of encouragement: “Think about your dreams and goals.”
Lothe’s cousin, Mala Kumar, talked about being a girl in tech for international development. One thing she said that was surprising was that the U.S. is the 55th worst country in the world in terms of gender equality.
The last speaker was Carol Adams, a Richmond police officer. Adams and her little sister grew up in an abusive family. One night, while they were sleeping, she woke up to the sound of five gun shots from the neighboring room; Adams immediately called the police, who neglected to ask how her and her sister were feeling. Her father ended up serving time in jail and her mother passed away, so from then on, she had to take care of her and her sister by herself. When she grew older, she became a police officer because she wanted to make sure that the children were the priority in cases like hers. “It’s not about talking about something we’ll do, it’s about doing it,” Adams said as she concluded her speech.
All four of these speakers are women who want to share their experiences so that all girls realize their importance in the world. Hopefully, our generation can fix the gender inequality in the United States, among other nations. The Girl Up event was a success in that girls left feeling as though they can in fact make a difference in the world.