Embracing Diversity, Empowering Equality: Student-run society, Girl Up JGU, is budding as a powerful young voice for social change

In spite of constituting half of the world’s population, many women and girls across the world do not have access to equality, freedom and justice, as they fundamentally deserve. While there has been progress over the decades, there still remains a long road to go for global gender equality. In the backdrop of this modern world still marred by the adverse realities of gender inequality, a generation of young girls is rising up to be the voices of social change.

Girl Up initiative by the United Nations Foundation

Since its inception in 2010 by the United Nations Foundation, the ‘Girl Up’ initiative has been dedicated to embracing the power of young girls to change the world. Girl Up started its journey as a campaign “by girls, for girls”, empowering girls around the world, and has evolved to encompass a broader scope around gender, health, education, social and economic empowerment, freedom from violence and more. The initiative primarily works to secure equal opportunities particularly for underprivileged adolescent girls in developing nations like Malawi, Ethiopia, Liberia and India.

JGU students join the cause for equality

Closer to home, the powerful global phenomena has inspired young girls in India to carry the baton onward and become changemakers in their homeland. In early 2020, a passionate group of students of the O.P. Jindal Global University launched ‘Girl Up JGU’, to join a steadily expanding global movement of around 4000 clubs across 125 countries. In a country with a massive population like ours, where gender issues are more widespread and deep-rooted across socio-economic strata; where conversations around gender identity are considered taboo; where gender roles are stereotyped and struggles are stigmatised; where violence against women is a burning issue; where local communities at large are yet to catch up to the progress achieved at a global scale—the work of such groups is not only significant, but, necessary.

Girl Up JGU is associated with the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign and Girl Up India that works on a range of issues in the field of gender equality. In fact, the core mission of empowering girls has, over time, expanded its purview to include a plethora of issues surrounding girls and young people in today’s context. To that end, Girl Up JGU is a celebration of the diversity of the student body and attempts to provide a safe space for all. It is a platform to work towards gender awareness, mental health, and related issues that affect today’s youth. The membership of the club is open to all individuals from all genders.

“We as a club strive to break free from the bounds of societal stigma by working on issues surrounding mental health, gender normativity, body dysmorphia, sexual health, among others,” shares the team.

First-ever ‘University Queer Society’ panel

Though recently founded, the club has been aggressive in its mission. In fact, Girl Up JGU organised the first ever ‘University Queer Society’ panel, which was attended by queer societies of JGU, BITS Pilani, NLSIU, NLIU, Shiv Nadar University, Hindu College and several other queer collectives from across India. The panellists discussed how universities should bring out policy and infrastructural changes to be more accommodating to all students. In heartfelt conversations, they also spoke of the liberties they enjoy as members of the queer community in their respective universities, the struggles and triumphs in their quest for gender equality.

Spreading awareness through talks, activities, collaborations & more

A discussion on sexual health policies across the globe was led by Ms. Celeste Chung, the U.N. Youth representative from Malaysia, alongside Girl Up Hong Kong. The discussion spanned over three hours wherein the moderators and spectators engaged in a talk about sexual health policies in their respective countries and how the society viewed these issues.

The club also organised a discussion with sexual and mental health professional, Dr. Ritu Kela, wherein the attendees were offered a safe platform to discuss their views and queries on sexual health. The club has plans to regularly host several activities, collaborations, talk circles and events to engage its members and the JGU community at large in conversations surrounding gender equality issues and hopes to do its part in tackling the problem at a global level.

The student-run society has also worked with Zenith, a legal aid clinic working on migrant rights. Girl Up members volunteered and coordinated with migrants in Madhya Pradesh to develop a state-wide report. The study deals with the employment situation of migrants who were forced to return to MP during the Covid-19 pandemic. In association with Zenith, the report has been prepared by three passionate young students: Rakshita Agarwal, Rohit Sharma and Lakshay, who led a team of more than 60 volunteers to gain insights about the state of the migrants currently without work. Titled ‘MP Migrant Workers Report’, the complete work will be available in the upcoming months.

We are proud of this passionate group of changemakers who are an inspiration to all of us in the JGU community and beyond! The budding society has challenged itself to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our times; they are pushing the boundaries every day, with their commitment to freedom, equality and empowerment. As they keep up the good work, we are hopeful that more young students join the cause and bring solutions, change and action around gender and related issues, the momentum they deserve. It is the voices of such educated young people that when pooled together, can ignite social change in a world that sorely needs it.

Related Post