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Empowering Girls through Education

By Mirchaye Woldeleoul

(R to L) Olivia Curl, Malala Yousafazi and Lena Shareef

#GIRLWITHABOOK Founders Olivia Curl (R) and Lena Shareef (L) with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafazi. Credit: #GIRLWITHABOOK

Like many people across the world, Olivia Curl (BA/SIS '14) and Lena Shareef (BA/SOC '11), were inspired by Malala Yousafazi when the fifteen-year-old Pakistani education activist was shot in 2012. Unlike most, Curl and Shareef took personal action that inspired others; they posted pictures of themselves on social media holding a book to show solidarity with Malala and every girl fighting for education, and encouraged their friends to do the same. The call spread far beyond their own networks, and they soon started receiving photos from all over the world.

Since then, with a lot of hard work and a successful Kickstarter campaign, GIRLWITHABOOK Movement has become a non-profit media organization that advocates for girls' education and gender equality. This past year, GIRLWITHABOOK's team traveled through Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal to produce a documentary series on girls' education in South and Central Asia.

The American University chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon Professional Foreign Service Sorority is hosting an evening gala and film screening with GIRLWITHABOOK on Thursday, October 20 at 7pm at American University’ School of International Service Atrium. The theme of the gala will be “WOMEN, EDUCATION & BACKPACK JOURNALISM.”

After the screening, there will be a panel discussion on the intersections of gender, development, education, and journalism with Curl and Shareef, as well as AU faculty. The evening will also feature a photo exhibit featuring images gathered throughout the four-month documentary trip with prints available for purchase and have audience Q&A with the filmmakers, raffle, a silent auction, music and refreshments. For more information and to RSVP