Thursday October 26, 2017
According to RESULTS, an international advocacy group dedicated to ending global and domestic poverty, women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity, this hard truth is often caused by a disparity or lack of education. Recently, on the International Day of the Girl, October 11, local student leaders came together to host a discussion featuring a variety of speakers addressing the education crisis worldwide. Student activist, Kiran Waqar, who founded the RESULT’s delegation in the Burlington area, says the purpose of the event was to connect Vermont issues with what is happening worldwide. “It can be easy to forget that we’re part of a global system. What impacts the rest of the world is still relevant to us. With such turbulent political times, the most vulnerable are often forgotten,” says Waqar.
Waqar, along with South Burlington High School (SBHS) students Sophie Bujold and Lena Ginawi, Essex High School student Linna Lahmadi, Burlington High School student Hawa Adam, and Saint Michaels College student Dina Alsaffar organized the event, which featured guest speaker Selamawit Adugna Bekele. A passionate education, youth, and gender activist from Ethiopia, Selamawit shared her experiences, starting as a teacher in Addis Ababa. Currently, she is a UN representative for Moremi Initiative, a Ghana-based Pan-African organization promoting young women’s leadership and social justice in Africa, and works directly to address the challenges students face in accessing a quality education in her country.
Waqar says Selamawit was the inspiration for the event, which celebrated International Day of the Girl, declared by a United Nations Resolution in 2011. Noting there were approximately 100 people in attendance, Waqar says, “Selamawit spoke about her impacts with education and why it is so essential to girls.”
Also invited to speak were Natalie Meyer of the Refugee Outreach Club, Marybeth Redmond from the Vermont Commission on Women, Kate Ash from Senator Patrick Leahy’s office, and Katarina Lisaius from Senator Bernie Sanders’ office.
Along with laying out the problems affecting millions regarding education, the event also discussed potential solutions, specifically ones proffered by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). An international organization, GPE’s mission is to strengthen education systems in developing countries in order to dramatically increase the number of children who are in school and learning.
Waqar said, “I think the event really did connect Vermonters to our global community. Going to a free public school daily, it’s hard to remember 263 million children aren’t even in school. It put things in context.”
A senior at SBHS, Waqar adds, “Events like this are important to me because I truly believe that every single person has the ability to make change. I think this is especially important directed at young people. While we can’t vote, we still have the ability to be heard. We can meet with members of Congress, call their offices, write op-eds, etc. We have a voice and that voice has power. This event was organized by young people. We were able to bring an international activist, representatives, and a sizable and diverse crowd [together] in a short amount of time. Not only are we preaching that anyone can make a difference, we’re leading by action.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/RESULTSBurlington/.
SOURCE: Carole Vasta Folley, The Other Paper