The Gallant Efforts of Girl Up


Kate Engelkes

The 2019-2020 Girl Up Group

As we approach the end of the first quarter, we all can agree that being at school has gotten a bit monotonous. What better of keeping yourself occupied than joining Ames High Girl Up! Girl Up is an initiative of the United Nations Foundation and its goal is to address the fifth sustainable development goal which is gender equality by 2030. Girl Up mainly focuses its efforts on empowering and educating girls in specific focus countries in the developing world. It also does a great job of building leadership and organizational skills in girls around the world. It has around 500 chapters across the globe including 30 countries and all US states.

“I got involved with Girl Up in 2016. I started a club in Houghton, Michigan which was nice and I ran that for a couple years. It was definitely difficult because it was a community based club, not a school based club so we weren’t supported by a school. It was also a very small and remote town which made it a bit more challenging,” Ganna said when asked about her past involvement with Girl Up. When Ganna moved to Ames, she saw it as an opportunity to take what she learned from running her previous club and start a club in an area where she would have more support and resources. She knew from the very beginning that Mrs. Engelkes would be the perfect sponsor for her club. It’s understandable, who doesn’t love Mrs. Engelkes?

This year, Girl Up has been trying to break up their meetings and do different and unique things. The meetings usually start by handing out resources to club members. For Ganna, it is crucial that her club feels like they are an active part of it and have resources available to them. They can take on projects on their own if they wish to do so and can also work in groups. They also have discussions often which revolve around gender equality around the world or about Girl Up’s mission. According to the Girl Up leaders, having a successful club is not an overnight job, it needs time and effort. Girl Up has a discussion every week on how they can do better as a club and maintain efficiency throughout the year. They make sure that their club is productive by planning out events that either raise awareness, advocate for the club and raise funds.

“I have definitely fallen in love with the element of leadership like planning and organizing things for a cause I am so passionate about. So I would continue to work in International Relations and focus on different countries and learn about the issues other people face,” Ganna said. This year Ganna is the President of Girl Up but she has a group of people that she can rely on and that have helped her out with everything.

On the International Day of the Girl, you might’ve noticed that a lot of people were wearing pink to celebrate their Girl Heroes. Girl Up had set up a trivia game where people were able to participate during both lunches and win goodies.  Last month, a few of our Girl Up members went to a leadership conference in Chicago. The day was filled with different activities and had an environment where everyone was able to discuss leadership opportunities and Girl Up’s mission.

Girl Up believes that every individual should have a #GirlHero or a woman they look up to as a role model. For Ganna, it would be her mom. “My mom is a very strong woman and has made a lot of sacrifices for our family but she’s also simultaneously killing it in every aspect of her career. She’s pretty cool,” Ganna said.

One of the main pillars Girl Up bases their actions upon is advocacy, they do a lot of talking with politicians and they believe that changing laws is pretty important. In fact, two laws have been passed in the United States that Girl Up lobbied through Congress. One of them was the Girls Count Act that was passed in 2015 and then this year the Protecting Girls access to Education in vulnerable settings Act was passed. Girl Up will be launching a monthly letter writing party open to the school, it will be an opportunity for students to come in and write letters to our elected officials. They hope to cover an issue each month that is important to Girl Up and its mission.

Ganna would love to be a part of Girl Up even after graduating High school. She is a Girl Up Teen Advisor this year which means she is working with Girl Up beyond her involvement with Ames High Girl Up. She hopes to continue doing that in the future by starting a club at her university.

Girl Up would love for you to join them. They meet after school, every Monday in Mrs. Engelkes’ room. Even if you can’t make the meeting times, you can still be a part of Girl Up and actively participate in their activities. You don’t have to be a girl in order to be a part of Girl Up. Shoutout to Erik Nelson who has actively participated in all Girl Up activities! At the end of the day, Gender Equality is everyone’s issue!