“I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.”
As a Pakistani student and education activist in the town of Mingora, Malala Yousufzai is the perfect representation of She’s The First at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s the First is an international nonprofit organization that promotes girls’ education in developing countries through sponsoring young women who would be the first females in their family to graduate secondary school. She’s the First started in 2009 and was founded by two young women in New York City. Today, there are 55 campus chapters across the United States.
Emily Parkinson, a senior majoring in special education at UW-Madison, founded She’s The First on campus in the fall of 2012. When I talked to her about what inspired her to bring She’s The First to Madison, she said, “I heard of the organization through an alumna of my sorority. When I checked out their website and saw that they had campus chapters, I thought the organization would be a great fit on our campus and gathered a group of friends to start the process of founding a chapter!” Parkinson is nothing less that amazing when it comes to rallying a group of students who are passionate about the education of women around the world.
Last year, the group sponsored three teenage girls named Irma, Sandra and Ingrid. The organization chose Guatemala out of the 11 current She’s The First partner schools because they were in the most need at the time. In December, She’s The First UW-Madison plans to send in their semester’s funds to the school currently in the most financial need.
There are multiple components to the organization’s presence on campus. The three main goals are to raise awareness on campus about issues in gender equality worldwide, raise funds for the students we sponsor and make an impact in Madison’s community through service. This year, the club will be participating in Girls on the Run, which promotes healthy living and positive self-image for young girls in Madison. They will help at their fall 5K in Waunakee on November 9th!
They also use their active presence on social media as a tool to engage individuals that are as passionate as they are.
A typical meeting begins with a game or icebreaker to build an open and welcoming atmosphere. Our executive board members present announcements, and our members then either work in teams to plan events or engage in conversation about international events as part of our monthly Global Awareness Program.
She’s The First UW-Madison will hold two fundraisers this semester to raise money for their students. During the last week of October (exact date TBD), the organization will have their annual cupcake bake sale, and on November 1 Buffalo Wild Wings will designate a portion of their profits to the cause. In addition, keep an eye out for them walking in this year’s Homecoming parade tomorrow!
Students can become a member of She’s The First at any time. Meetings take place every other week on Wednesday’s at 8p.m. If you are interested in joining, send She’s The First UW-Madison an email at ShestheFirstUW@gmail.com!