GirlUp’s Powerful Gender-Equality Meeting

The FHS Girl Up chapter joined a larger discussion of sexism and gender-based violence

Abigail Drake

The FHS Girl Up chapter joined a larger discussion of sexism and gender-based violence

Students were able to share experiences with sexism recently, describing sexual assault, discomfort with religion, racism,  harassment, and more with nonprofit organization, GirlUp.

On March 26, 12th graders, Saivagmita Khantheiti and Angelina Silva-Perez organized a meeting with GirlUp for a conference as a safe place students could discuss their experiences with sexism and gender-based violence. 

At this meeting, an importance for intersectional feminism and gender equality activism was stressed as well as the fact that students were able to be vulnerable and share anything. 

Additionally, the statistic that 97 percent of women in the United Kingdom have been sexually harassed by men was brought up and it was found that many of the girls attending were in the 97 percent statistic.

GirlUp is a nonprofit organization affiliated with the United Nations that makes an effort to help to bring awareness and solutions to many topics in relation to feminism and gender-equality, as explained by Angelina Silva-Perez, a teen-ambassador for GirlUp and the manager of many of the FHS GirlUp club’s activities. 

She and Khantheiti, who was not a member of GirlUp, had previously discussed many topics in relation to gender-equality, racism and other social issues and wished to have a similar experience with other students and held this meeting to give that to others.

One girl described how she was sexually assaulted by a boy who invited her over to his home to watch a film and he claimed that she was crazy, making it so that nobody really believed her. 

Another told of how she felt a lack of freedom in her family’s religious traditions, stating that she experienced her family telling her that she was meant to stay home because of her sex.

Additional stories were shared about feeling unheard in male-dominated STEM courses, being harassed sexually by men, unwarranted sexualization, racism against women of certain races, and dress codes targeting young women and girls.

At the end of the meeting, a question was asked to the students: “What do you want to see in the future?” Students stated that they hoped that there would no longer be a need for a club such as this one later on and stressed that there was a need for intersectionality in feminism. 

To have those in other groups than just young women, those at GirlUp want for all people to see how important gender equality can be is a wish of the advisors at GirlUp.