In honor of Women’s History month, I want to highlight a project that is doing transformative work on girls’ and women’s empowerment around the world.
Based out of Washington State, USA, Stirring the Fire (STF) is an innovative and powerful movement towards global gender equality that both targets and connects young people to global opportunities to work towards girls’ and women’s empowerment. Stirring the Fire is also an advocacy-oriented project providing numerous and invaluable ways for college-age women and men to become involved with the global community to work with, and for, gender equality around the world.
The foundation from which STF operates is the unwavering belief that empowering women and girls is the answer to peace, stability and poverty alleviation around the world. STF leverages students on college campuses through education and motivates them to get involved. By inspiring the millennial generation to contribute towards gender equality, the impact is profound and multidimensional: helping women and girls achieve social and economic justice worldwide, consequently growing the global and social conscience of America.
How does this work? The Student Advocacy program gives students the training and tools to raise awareness about gender-based issues and encourages activism on their campuses. To show their fellow students the ways they can make a difference locally and globally STF student chapters hold campus events such as round table discussions, films, marches, and speaking events.
Additionally, the STF website is a treasure trove of resources and education. Founder and social documentary photographer Phil Borges has illustrated through short videos several issues (health, education, leadership, violence against women, trafficking) in which women and girls around the world face discrimination, hardship and unequal representation. The social media is accompanied by facts and figures of such impact that it is hard to walk away untouched by the call to action.
Once ignited, students are able to choose from an array of different options on the website to tailor their engagement to meet their academic and personal needs. This could look like volunteering at a local field office close to home, creating social media for an organization, or planning a trip to a developing country to pursue an internship on the ground. By having this much flexibility, more students will be able to participate, encouraging young people to step outside their comfort zones and have profound, perspective-changing experiences. With a broadened perspective, these students will return better educated, informed and motivated to continue to raising awareness in their own communities. It is, in essence, the butterfly effect.
STF has been deliberate and purposeful to create a database of NGOs and non-profits around the world working specifically on issues affecting women and girls. It is one of the most expansive databases of its kind. All organizations listed, no matter how small, have opportunities for volunteers or interns. From Confident Children out of Conflict in Juba, South Sudan that works with orphaned girls on the streets, to Cross Cultural Solutions based out of the US offering volunteer opportunities in several countries on girls’ education and empowerment, the student will find an appropriate match.
Women’s History Month provides us a moment to reflect on past accomplishments as well as focus on future goals. Consider Stirring the Fire as part of the solution as we move forward with stronger collective efforts to engage in positive change by bringing more young women and men into the movement.