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SMC club advocates for girls’ education worldwide

| Thursday, December 3, 2015

During its first year on campus, the College’s chapter She’s the First, which supports women’s education in low-income countries, has 80 members and is still attracting interest, senior club member Christine Germann said.

“College chapters of She’s the First are vocal advocates for girls’ education who educate their peers through documentary screenings, panel discussions and innovative campus events that raise awareness about the cause,” Germann said. “They raise funds through creative and unique events to support girls in developing nations and make sure they receive opportunities for empowerment.”

The club’s first meeting was with a Peace Corps representative about joining together with “Let Girls Learn,” an initiative that combines efforts by the White House, USAID and Peace Corps to promote female education across the globe, she said.

Germann said the club plays an important role on Saint Mary’s campus because it reminds people that education for girls is important, no matter the circumstances or location in the world.

“One factor that inhibits girls from completing a secondary education is plain and simple, funding,” she said. “She’s the First attempts to alleviate this financial barrier and provides a way for us, here in the United States, to play a part in the solution.”

The club gives students an opportunity to address the issue, club vice president junior Elizabeth Murray said.

“The club is important at Saint Mary’s to help us to understand how fortunate we are to receive an amazing education, but also to put our leadership skills to practice and empower girls internationally through education as well,” Murray said.

Members of the Saint Mary’s chapter inform the community and collaborate with other organizations and departments on campus to spread the message about the importance of education for girls, Germann said.

“The very opportunities that education provides lead to global socioeconomic benefits,” Germann said. “In this club, work is done to be a part of the solution to a problem girls face all over the world, the lack of access to quality education.”

On Thursday, “She’s the First” is collaborating with the College’s department of justice education to show the documentary “To Educate a Girl” and raise money for the She’s the First organization through cupcake sales. “To Educate a Girl” was produced by the United Nations, and is a credible, accessible resource to share the message, Germann said.

She said money raised during the event will be sent to “She’s the First” and then redirected to the chapter’s sponsored scholar.

“Supported by the UNGEI [United Nations Girls Education Initiative] this film promotes equity in education and global gender justice,” she said. “It provides three narratives that bring the issue home in a personal way. Sometimes it is very hard to imagine, living here, in the United States, that we have so many privileges that others do not, such as basic education rights.”

Murray said she hopes attendees leave the event with a greater understanding of the value of women’s education.

“We would like them to recognize their own education as a blessing, but also help us in the attempt to bring this same education to others,” she said.

Along with a sense of purpose, the film will help people understand why it is important to care about girl’s education and the barriers they face, Germann said.

“Ultimately, I hope attendees are reminded of what a blessing it is to be educated and, in turn, will help to impart that blessing on others who only want the same opportunity,” she said.

The documentary showing is free, and will take place on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Vander Vennett Theatre.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn