Who Run the World? (Girls International)

South clubs can be a place to share ideas and be involved in a great community. Girls International, founded last year, allows members to discuss and to solve a very pressing topic: the rights and futures of girls in third world countries.

“At 3 am on August 1st, 2015, I watched a documentary about child brides in Yemen,” said Emma Kienzle, a South senior and creator of the club Girls International. “I felt so bad that I wasn’t doing anything to help them. I was compelled to help.”

Not long after watching the documentary, Emma started the process of creating a club she hoped would be able to help these child brides and other girls in developing countries who lack basic opportunities Americans take for granted like an education. Four months later, Emma held the first meeting of Girls International, a club that focuses on “raising awareness and creating change” for girls in need.

The club has become popular for its discussion based meetings and fundraisers, growing to over 100 members this year from the small group at the beginning of last December.

Meetings of the club include fundraiser planning and discussions on a variety of topics including sex slavery, girls in Yemen and genital mutilation. These discussions create an open forum that allow members to show their passions and raise awareness, which is the best way to help these girls. Emma says these are her favorite part of the club because “more people knowing [about the girls in need] creates more people making change.”

“The most important thing you can do [for these girls] is talk about them,” Emma says. Senior Lauren Filipe agrees, saying she joined the club because “it is an issue that isn’t talked about enough.”

Girls International is spreading its message to the middle schools and other high schools in the district, as well as the community. This year the fundraisers are also helping the club reach this goal.

The club has planned a clothing drive for In Full Swing and an open mic night at a local youth group. Emma hopes the most influential event will be a documentary viewing in the school’s auditorium on June 2nd. With concessions and raffle baskets, the club will raise money for charity and will raise awareness with the viewing.

Girls International sends the money to two initiatives, Let Girls Learn and Girls Not Brides, both of which are groups that help ensure girls education and end child marriage to “[enable] girls to fulfill their potential” and “equip girls to make life decisions”, according to the government initiative’s websites. The club “directly benefits” these specific causes, which is why senior Erin O’Shaughnessy joined. The South club has raised more than $1,000 to benefit these charities in the past year and will raise more with their new fundraisers.

Emma says the best thing the club has done so far was a fundraiser for Let Girls Learn last year. Through a forum penny war, Girls International raised $350 in change while alerting everyone in the school about girl’s need for transportation to schools and a proper education.

“These girls are our age or younger,” Emma explained. “They’re no different than us.” The children who are forced into their stark lifestyle live this way because of their “situation and circumstance.”

Maddie Kiefer, a senior, wants the club to help underprivileged girls “have the same opportunities.” “Making people aware of this situation allows them the opportunity to fix it.”  

Emma’s drive for creating Girls International also comes from her love for her younger sister. She said, “My sister is 10. The girls being married off and raped are her age. This is unacceptable.”  

Both Emma and Girls International have big plans for the future. Emma is looking into colleges with similar clubs to her own or the opportunity to create one. She also hopes to intern at non-profits with the same cause while the club at South continues to grow.

In the coming year after she leaves South, Emma is hoping that Girls International continues to grow bigger, being changed as the new people join. “I want Girls International to grow into new ideas and not be stifled by the past. I want new people to put their passions into it.”