International Gender Equality Movement group hosts leadership summit for middle school girls


Source: Arielle Ticho

Middle school girls from the Chicago area attend the International Gender Equality Movement’s leadership summit in Harris Hall. The summit on Saturday involved sessions on team building and simulations on issues about health, education and safety.

Tyler Pager, Assistant Campus Editor

The International Gender Equality Movement held a leadership summit Saturday for 54 middle school girls in an effort to develop leadership skills and educate them about issues that girls in developing countries face.

The summit was held in Harris Hall, and participants came from the Evanston and Chicago area.

Weinberg sophomore Vivien Hastings and SESP sophomore Carly Pablos founded iGEM in November. The organization was founded as a chapter of Girl Up, a campaign by the United Nations Foundation, which aims to empower American girls to raise awareness and funds to support adolescent girls in developing countries. Girl Up was founded three years ago and holds an annual summit each year in Washington, D.C.

iGEM, which Hastings said is one of the first collegiate Girl Up chapters, is funded by the Roberta Buffett Center.

Hastings said the goal of the event was to educate the girls and spread Girl Up’s message in the Chicago and Evanston communities. She said she hopes the event will inspire other girls to create Girl Up chapters.

As a result, Julie Willig, a grassroots officer for Girl Up, said this event was important in spreading the organization’s message to new communities.

“Girl Up is a for-girls, by-girls movement, so this type of event really epitomizes that type of movement and campaign,” she said. “It’s great because the girls are learning in an interactive, fun way, and they are able to see these campus leaders as mentors, as role models too, and as people to aspire to and be like.”

The summit was divided into two parts. The morning session focused on leadership and team building. In the afternoon, the girls split up into different interactive breakout groups to participate in simulations on issues such as health, safety and education. Sessions were led by members of NU’s Conference on Human Rights, College Feminists, GlobeMed and Students for Education Reform.

“We really wanted to bring in other student involvement into this project so that we could really join as Northwestern students into teaching what we have accomplished and teaching how these girls can become the next global leaders and really learn about global issues at a young age,” Hastings said.

Despite the group’s new presence, Pablos said the group worked hard to establish connections within the community in order to make the event possible. She said after the event’s success this year, the group plans to improve and grow the summit in the future.

“We didn’t really know what to expect because this was our first big event for people that don’t go to Northwestern,” she said. “It was really a great year to build a foundation of contacts and hopefully this will become an annual summit each spring.”

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