Working to empower adolescent girls around the world, the United Nations Foundation campaign, Girl Up, opened a chapter at Yale this semester.

The new women’s advocacy club at Yale held its first meeting on Saturday to discuss its plans for the new semester. According to chapter co-president Sarah Gale ’20, the organization aims to increase access to education for girls in developing countries such as India, Malawi, Liberia, Guatemala and Uganda, and to ensure female students feel healthy, safe and supported.

“Girl Up is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that mobilizes people here in the U.S. and here at Yale now to channel their energy and their compassion to raising awareness and funds for girls in the developing world,” Gale said. “Girl Up Yale is so excited to be hosting fundraisers and awareness events and advocating on behalf of girls in the developing world. We’d love for anyone and everyone to join.”

Adrianne Owings ’20, the chapter’s other co-president, said the group hopes to mobilize Yale students in order to accomplish its advocacy and fundraising goals.

According to Owings, as a branch of a United Nations Foundation, Girl Up Yale plans to hold district meetings with congressmen and congresswomen. This year, group members will use those meetings to advocate for a bill that aids access to education for “girls in refugee situations,” Owings said.

Owings added that one of the chapter’s most important goals is to raise awareness and educate Yale students about the “vulnerability of women seeking education in certain parts of the world.” For instance, Owings noted, the group plans to organize a speaker series and screen the documentary “He Named me Malala” — which centers on Malala Yousafzai, who became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate after advocating for female education in Pakistan — among other initiatives.

Additionally, Owings — who is also on the board of the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative — said Girl Up Yale plans to establish relationships with other women’s advocacy groups on campus.

“We want to talk about having a conference and reach out and partner with other organizations,” Owings said.

The club will meet every other Saturday, with breakoff committee meetings throughout the week, according to Gale. In addition to committees for advocacy and fundraising, the group also has a committee dedicated to planning a special event for International Day of the Girl, which falls on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

According to Owings, the advocacy committee is involved with “planning in-district meetings with representatives” and organizing call-in days during which members will call government representatives to advocate for particular issues.

Meanwhile, the fundraising committee is looking to organize a spin class in order to raise funds for School Cycle, an initiative that falls under the United Nations Foundation Girl Up and seeks to provide bikes for female students around the world who must walk long distances to school.

Another Girl Up Yale committee is organizing a fashion show featuring male models in order to highlight the club’s inclusive spirit.

“We would love to have guys involved in Girl Up,” Owings said.

Jacob Levitt ’20, a member of the Girl Up committee planning for International Day of the Girl, said he joined the club because he thinks it is important that Yale has an international reach.

“It’s really important to have a global perspective about underrepresented populations around the world,” Levitt said.

Allison Chen |