Nadia is your average 8-year-old girl, except for one thing—she doesn’t have an opportunity to learn. Her family can’t afford for her to attend school. The nearest school is too far away, and her mother needs her help with the chores at home, so her education is deemed unimportant.
This is the case for more than 20 percent of all the primary-school age girls globally, according to Circle of Sisterhood, a new philanthropy that raises money to build schools and create programs to remove educational barriers for girls and women all over the world.
Circle of Sisterhood was created for girls like Nadia. It supports girls and women seeking education in 12 countries across four continents. The organization grants money to build schools in places like Senegal. It helps women in Uganda by offering sexual education classes and provides mentors to children aspiring to go to college.
Ginny Carroll, founder of Circle of Sisterhood, got the idea to create the philanthropy after watching the documentary “Half the Sky,” which shows women who are in some way enslaved–to sex trafficking, to shame, to men, to societal pressures. She says she felt she had a responsibility to help girls around the world get an education.
When Carroll created Circle of Sisterhood, she said she knew she could not do it alone. She was familiar with a large community of college-educated women she knew would help—sorority women. She then decided to turn to National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), which is a unifying organization that links sororities on campus together. As a result, the NPC adopted Circle of Sisterhood as its national philanthropy. Now, NPC is just one of the many organizations that is engaged in Circle of Sisterhood’s cause.
Circle of Sisterhood was introduced this year to the University of Montevallo’s campus by the NPC chapter, but the officers do not want it to stop there.
Montevallo’s Panhellenic Public Relations Officer Kailin Parker said, “One of the biggest messages we want to express to Montevallo’s students is that Circle of Sisterhood isn’t just for sororities. Its about women empowering women. We are all fortunate enough to be here gaining an education. We should all work together to make sure others have that opportunity as well.”
Montevallo Panhellenic President Audrey Barron said she hopes to work with other organizations on campus to ensure the success of the new philanthropy. “We want to pair with Ecclesia during Freedom Week because we have similar goals—helping to free people from their barriers, like slavery or poverty.”
One way Panhellenic plans to raise awareness of the need to empower women is to host screenings of “Half the Sky.” The documentary is broken up into four segments, each telling a separate story of a girl or woman facing some sort of societal barrier. One segment will be shown at each event. The first was held on Aug. 28 during the first week of school.
There, the Panhellenic officers asked everyone in the audience to donate at least a dollar to Circle of Sisterhood. The event raised more than $250, which goes straight to the national fund.
The money Circle of Sisterhood raises goes to fund the various grants the philanthropy gives out to organizations working toward its mission. To apply for a grant, an organization can go online and fill out a request form.