Fighting for feminism


Photo Credit: Tara Lagattuta

Club president Abby Stern stands with Hailey Sapoff, student outreach officer, at the end of the last Girl Up meeting.

by Tara Lagattuta, Staff Writer

Feminism has been illustrated negatively and portrayed as angry women yelling at men for equal rights. However, sophomore Abby Stern created the Girl Up club this year to raise awareness and support for feminism.

Stern says she was instilled with feminist morals ever since she was young because of the powerful female role models in her life. Now, she has brought her ideas and goals to Glen Rock by starting a branch of Girl Up, a feminist organization.

Girl Up is a United Nations foundation that engages girls to take action. This includes empowering other women, educating people about feminism, and raising advocacy for the cause. Stern’s branch of Girl Up fundraises to buy bicycles that will help girls to travel to school in Malawi in order to receive an education.

Starting a club geared toward feminism always sounded interesting to Stern, but she never felt the urge to start a club until she realized how unaware people were of feminism.

“I never really felt that need to start it, until last year I realized how uneducated people were and how people thought feminism was this dirty word,” Stern said.

“I think the purpose and the goal is to inform women and people around the world, and more specifically in the school about what feminism and women’s rights are,” said Ana Lindley, event coordinator of Girl Up.

In the early stages, Stern communicated with Principal John Arlotta and made an outline of the club she wanted to start, asked a teacher to be the adviser, and gathered a list of over fifty students who were interested. The most challenging part of creating the club was encouraging students, other than her friends, to sign up and say that they are feminists.

Although Girl Up is a national club, Stern also wants to focus on helping out the community. During December, the club collected toys, clothes, and other gifts for women and children at Oasis in Paterson, NJ.

Since the club is still new to the school, Stern is aiming to collect more high school members and involve middle schoolers to educate them on female leadership.

“I want this club to outlast me,” Stern said. “I want to start getting other kids involved, so when I leave, I can hand it off to someone.”

Girl Up has about 30 active members currently. There are also seven officer positions including: Abby Stern (president), Jessie Stern (vice president), Ana Lindley (event coordinator), Tara Lagattuta (treasurer), Hailey Sapoff (student outreach officer), Jenna Hendrickx (secretary), and Amanda Eichmann (secretary).

“Abby is such an amazing woman and president of the club, and her beliefs and opinions are powerful and amazing, and I wanted to be a part of it all,” Ana Lindley said.

Taylor Ingis, a Spanish teacher, is the Girl Up adviser. Stern picked Ingis because she knew her as a feminist.

“Not only is she awesome and a feminist, but she was new. She wasn’t involved in anything yet. She’s young, she’s relatable, and she seemed like the prime candidate for it,” Stern said.

Stern hopes the club will make a significant impact on the school, but her primary goal is to make the word feminism less taboo. Instead of the word being associated with bad stereotypes, she wanted Girl Up to represent positivity and empowerment.

For the rest of the year, several fundraisers are being planned. Some of these events might highlight advocacy for feminism and mentoring younger feminists.

Girl Up is always in search of new members, including male members as well. Feminism is focused on gender equality and fairness to all human beings, so club members want people to know that everyone is invited to join in this movement.