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Room to Read Hosts “Box Out the Barriers” Event

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

“Education for girls matters because…” How would you fill in the blank, collegiettes?

Last weekend activist groups around the country celebrated International Day of the Girl Child, which took place on October 11. The day was established by the United Nations in 2012 to celebrate girl power around the world and to give activist groups a chance to raise awareness for gender equality. International Day of the Girl was recognized worldwide, and President Obama published a proclamation in honor of the day.

“We cannot afford to silence the girl who holds the key to changing her community, or the voice that speaks up to call for peace or further scientific discovery,” the president’s statement read. “With partners across the globe, we support the girls who read out for their future in the face of unimaginable obstacles.”

Organizations around the world took International Day of the Girl as an opportunity to highlight issues in gender equality. Activists in Pakistan celebrated by paying tribute to girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai, who on October 10 was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

One group of Northeastern students took part in International Day of the Girl by setting up a table in the West Village quad on Friday and hosting a “Box Out the Barriers” event. The event was cohosted by Northeastern’s chapter of Room to Read and the university’s division of UNICEF.

The idea for “Box Out the Barriers” was coined by the U.S. division of the Global Campaign for Education, a coalition of organizations dedicated to providing universal access to quality education. The GCE invited groups around the country to create an exhibit of boxes, each of which represented a different barrier to women’s education. This visual representation of the challenges women face was meant to serve as a conversation starter for anyone that walked by.

At the Northeastern event, students invited passers-by to write down their own reason for why girls’ education was important, and to hold their written reason up in front of the exhibit for a photo. All participants had their reasons and photos posted on the Room to Read Facebook page.

Room to Read is a U.S.-based organization that works to improve literacy and gender equality in education in developing countries. At Northeastern, Room to Read is recognized under the umbrella of the Social Enterprise Institute, and the student members host fundraisers and events to raise awareness of the issues surrounding gender equality and literacy. The “Box Out the Barriers” event is the organization’s first awareness campaign of the semester.

Research shows that education can be an important way to reduce conflict in society. “Educating girls is especially sustainable, because women have a tendency to give back,” said Room to Read member Aja Watkins, who is also a Global Youth Ambassador at A World at School, an organization dedicated to prioritizing children’s education.

The event was a huge success. More than 50 students came by to support girls’ education and have their picture taken in front of the display.

The boxes in the display were stacked on top of each other to represent how barriers to women’s education compound on one another. The barriers listed included sanitation, housework and transport.

“People in a place like this don’t even think about a lot of these barriers,” said Watkins, who thought the display was a great way to get students thinking about the issues women face in developing countries.

Room to Read executive board member Dan Russotto hopes that students who attended the event will also participate in fundraisers Room to Read hosts in the future. However, the organization’s main goal is to catalyze a university-wide discussion of the issue of gender equality in education.

“If people aren’t talking about it, nobody’s going to do anything to solve it,” Russotto said.

You can follow Northeastern’s chapter of Room to Read at @RoomtoReadNEU http://campaignforeducationusa.org/pages/contact



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Gwen Schanker


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Emily Feltault


Hi my name is Emily Feltault and I am a rising sophomore at Northeastern University! I am one of the new Campus Correspondents for my chapter and am excited to get started!!