June 16, 2010
Erin Stahl, Danielle McGee, Lauren LoPinto, and Julie Ruggieri are four students at Fairfield University who worked with Professor Gita Rajan to raise $1,067 for the Grameen Foundation Scholarship Program.
During our Women’s Studies Capstone Seminar, not only did we learn about the influence of public policy on society, but we put it into action—locally and globally.
We began our research with trying to understand how gender empowerment models could be sustained over time. After researching gender-focused public policy and its impact on legislation within the United States, we realized the tremendous impact that policies like Title IX and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act of 1998 have had on the lives and careers of U.S. women. However, we wanted to do something to improve the opportunities afforded to women in developing countries for educational, economic, and social advancement.
Through our research, we discovered that educating and incorporating adult women in the economy of South Asia is a low priority, so we chose to create a scholarship for a woman in Bangladesh. After exploring NGOs operating in the region, we decided to create the scholarship through Grameen Foundation’s Scholarship Program and to fund a scholarship with Grameen Shikkha, a program GF supports, because we wanted to maintain our strong “acting locally, thinking globally” connection. We also appreciated their concrete focus on educational opportunities.
We had a plan, but we still needed the money. We began our fundraising efforts by contacting faculty to request personal donations and went door-to-door appealing to students in dormitories. We reached out to the community and sold t-shirts off-campus. In each case, we explained our mission, and donors were enthusiastic about our cause. In less than a single semester, we raised $1,067 for the scholarship program. Our donation, and others, will be used to sponsor a new student every five years through monthly scholarships.
Endowing a scholarship that will allow one woman a high school or collegiate education is important because it will launch a cycle of women helping other women. We feel that providing a woman with the opportunity to learn basic skills will enable others to do the same. Women are more likely to use money and education to build family and community, so for us, an investment in women is an investment in the overall growth and stability of a region.