By Janice Yang, Annabel Uhlman, Vivian Wang, Niralee Shah
MUN Impact Press Writer: Si Yun Ee
On April 7, 2018, the Girl Up Club in Taipei American School (TAS) hosted our second annual Leadership Summit. Our high school club is registered as a chapter of Girl Up which operates under the umbrella of the United Nations Foundation. As we reflected on the intent of the club’s founding and began our work in hosting a summit that would attract over 100 participants, we realized the significance of our journey and how closely it aligns with MUN-Impact’s process of Inspire, Dive In, and Impact.
Our chapter’s founding two years ago was inspired by the recognition of a lack of discussion and awareness of gender issues within our community. The Girl Up organization itself closely aligns its mission with Sustainable Development Goals number 4 and 5: Inclusive and Quality Education for All, and Gender Equality and Empowerment of All Women and Girls. Girl Up’s five pillars of action to cultivate areas such as girls’ leadership, education, and health were all missions that inspired us. We were energized to be part of a change.
The “Dive In” component of our initiative involved converting all our dreams into reality, which often required all things related to logistics more than anything else; learning about the paperwork necessary to start a club, defining and then executing a club leadership structure, and learning how to connect with the larger UN Foundation Girl Up network. Of course, there were also many other smaller yet even more important things, like getting members to show up for meetings, or deciding what content (of the infinite possibilities) we wanted to talk about at each meeting. All the logistical steps that would eventually lead to the impact stage also included discovering and attending the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington D.C.. At this Summit we were in contact with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Rosie Rios and model Ashley Graham. We also got the opportunity to lobby with U.S. Congresspeople to pass legislation related to girls’ education. The Summit in D.C. further inspired to take what we learned and to maximize such a valuable experience to make an Impact within our own school community.
The following year we simulated the experience of the Leadership Summit in D.C., bringing it to a broader audience of youths and peers at TAS. Our summit was targeted for those who did not have the opportunity to attend the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., to encourage discussion and advocacy of gender issues, and to promote the notion to many on campus that pursuing gender equality should not be discouraged.
While the summit held at TAS was modelled after the summit in D.C., the event catered to the key issues commonly experienced by our school community and its audience of mostly youths. The overall theme pertained most relevantly to SDG 5 of Gender Equality and Empowerment. Specific workshops, many of which were interactive or discussion-based, explored more nuanced aspects of the topics, ranging from Self Defense to Matrilineage to Women’s Leadership and Amplification.
Through the two years of our running this summit, our participation numbers jumped from 60 to over 100, including both student and faculty workshop presenters and event attendees. Most recently, we were also able to invite speakers such as the Ambassador of Belize, as well as women leaders of law and technology firms Paragon Legal and Intel to talk about how gender issues are tackled on both the global and the personal level.
Although MUN Impact had not been established when we started this journey, reflection as we prepare their next journey to college reveals how closely the process of impacting our surrounding community through issues we are passionate about aligned with the goals of MUN Impact. This whole project has taught us that yes, it is indeed possible to create something from nothing, and reach hundreds of people with our passions through the process. From a small community here at TAS, we can find the same goals and passion to implement impact, parallel to the reason for encouraging youth to take action – exactly why MUN Impact was established.