Blog Post by: Emaan Ali, Emma Coburn and Anjana Ramesh

Can you change the world?” This was the question our history teacher asked us one day that served as the catalyst that sparked our passion and love for the interests that we really care for.

Despite the very ambitious nature of the question, it emphasized not just how one can bring about that change, but if one had the passion and determination to make an impact. Suddenly, it made perfect sense to us. We had always thought of ways to go about helping others but never took the initiative to do so. Thus, we decided on our project: raising awareness for girls’ rights.

From Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania, we (Anjana Ramesh, Emma Coburn, and Emaan Ali) have always shared the passion to help others. As young girls ourselves, we realize the immense limitations that young women face politically, economically, and socially. Additionally, as two of our group members are from a Southeast Asian background, gender inequality, feminine traditions, and cultural expectations embedded in Asian culture are still prevalent in our community.

On a larger scope, other factors like poverty, technological limitations, or simply even geography limit millions of girls worldwide from obtaining the countless opportunities that could be accessible to us today. For instance, female genital mutilation is extremely prevalent in North African countries; a staggering 98% of girls are cut in Somalia, 90% in Sierra Leone, and 97% in Guinea (Krupa, Michelle. “The Alarming Rise of Female Genital Mutilation in America.” CNN). Furthermore, about 41,000 women and children are trafficked annually in the United States, with most going into sex and labor trafficking (“Hotline Statistics.” National Human Trafficking Hotline). In Asia, 1 in 2 girls are married before the age of 18 for reasons such as class, caste, and income (“Gender Equality.” UNICEF South Asia).

Even in Europe, the disparity in wages between women and men is considerably high. Many countries such as Iceland, Finland, and Sweden have some of the highest global gender gaps (Statista. “Topic: Gender Equality in Europe.”) These statistics suggest that women’s rights are a global issue. It is important to acknowledge that more than a community or region needs to take a stand and empower others to create a better world where women can be equal. This simple mantra brought about our project, as we wanted to help others inspire, teach, and raise awareness for girls’ rights around the world.

After recently discovering the Rukmini Foundation and its mission to promote an appreciation for girls’ education in underprivileged countries, we realized that their goals are very similar to ours. Their holistic programs of education, mentoring, and providing wellness services in Nepal emphasized the aim of our project we seek to further. For instance, under their health and wellness (Ayush) program, they provide routine checkups to ensure their health and give  support through their mentoring (Didi) program to help girls build their confidence and self esteem. Through these wonderful programs, Rukmini is helping girls just like us be able to confidently stand on their feet and take on the world. Additionally, their mission considerably resonates with us on a personal level, as two of our group members have an Asian cultural background. Nonetheless, we simply cannot imagine the struggles and impediments girls in Nepal might go through to obtain the rights they deserve, such as the right to marry at their will and educational and economic equality. The Rukmini Foundation has amazing goals that we hope to be a part of in empowering girls through education. Through our partnership and effort of fundraising bracelets, at least one more girl will be able to receive the education they rightfully deserve.

Alongside delivering a few presentations and inviting guest speakers to talk about girls’ rights to raise awareness about this global issue.

Looking ahead, even as we part to different colleges to pursue our own paths, our passion and friendship will always remain the same. We will continue to share and raise awareness of this important cause and create new projects to bring about change. The feeling of recognizing that people will benefit from our simple efforts will always drive our passion.

 

The Team (left to right) Anjana Ramesh, Emaan Ali, Emma Coburn

 

Works Cited:

“Gender Equality.” UNICEF South Asia, www.unicef.org/rosa/what-we-do/gender-equality.

“Hotline Statistics.” National Human Trafficking Hotline, Polaris,                                                                  humantraffickinghotline.org/states.

Krupa, Michelle. “The Alarming Rise of Female Genital Mutilation in America.” CNN, Cable

News Network, 14 July 2017,

www.cnn.com/2017/05/11/health/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-explainer-trnd/index.html.

Statista. “Topic: Gender Equality in Europe.” www.statista.com,

www.statista.com/topics/3719/gender-equality-in-europe/.

About Bibhuti

Born in Nepal, but growing up in the United States, Bibhuti Aryal has received most of his education in the US. He credits the excellent education he received through Pittsburgh Public Schools, Robert Morris University, and Carnegie Mellon University for the opportunities he has received in his life.Bibhuti earned his undergraduate degree in Information Sciences from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA, USA and then his Master's in Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, also in Pittsburgh. He currently works in the Information Technology field where he has had a variety of roles from Software Developer to Project / Program Manager to Consultant where he has been helping companies and organizations to make the best use of technology to help solve business problems. He has experience in various industries, such as: government, logistics, finance, insurance and engineering. However, he discovered his passion to advocate for equal access to education when he revisited his motherland of Nepal in 2011.For most of the last 9 plus years, Bibhuti has been advocating for quality education for all, especially in his country of Nepal and the communities where he was born into. He is the Co-Founder of Rukmini Foundation, an organization that empowers girls through a holistic program of education, mentoring, and health & wellness. In the US, Bibhuti also serves in his community in various roles including as the Chair of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs in Pennsylvania where he leads the Commission in advocating for the diverse AAPI communities in the State.Bibhuti is responsible for ensuring that the organization fulfills its mission and achieves the goals set by the board through coordination of efforts of all volunteers of the Rukmini Foundation. Bibhuti brings his years of experience in various industries like: government, construction, finance and technology along with a strong desire to initiate a positive change in the world.Away from work, Bibhuti enjoys time with his family, running, reading and trying to learn new languages.
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