Edwards event celebrates, empowers women | VailDaily.com

Edwards event celebrates, empowers women

Caramie Schnell
VAIL CO, Colorado
From left to right, Jessica (GLI, Calif) Hannah (with Salvation Army, Hong Kong), stand with Red Canyon High School students Jammie Dumolt, Kayla Martinez and Allison Campbell.

A Red Canyon student was one of only six girls from around the world chosen to address the United Nations in February. Sixteen-year-old Jammie Dumolt and three Red Canyon High School classmates – Allison Campbell, Alejandra Chavez and Kayla Martinez – joined women and girls from more than 45 countries for the U.N.’s 55th Commission on the Status of Women.

“It was an amazing experience,” Dumolt said.

Dumolt helped to write a speech for the event about violence against girls and women around the world; the importance of education; and why there needs to be a push to get more girls to go into science and technology fields. The event was part of Girls Learn International, a nonprofit in New York City that’s working to improve women’s lives around the world, and to help American students to understand the issues that some of the horrors women face in the Third World, like sex trafficking, genital mutilation, and being sold as child brides, with no opportunity for education because once they’re sold as brides or slaves, education is no longer an option.

That’s what Dumolt and her fellow students at Red Canyon have been learning about in a class called Voices for Equality, taught by teachers Ann Constien and Judith Caliguiri.

“The students are shouting out that this needs to stop,” Caligiuri told the Vail Daily in February. “Girls and women in these developing countries need to be educated. If they get the education they’re less likely to accept these sorts of circumstances.”

Dumolt and some of the girls who went on the trip will present a slideshow about their trip and what they’ve learned in the class over the course of the year Wednesday night at The Bookworm of Edwards. Stacey Edgar, author of the book “Global Girlfriends: How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide,” will also attend the event. Edgar founded Global Girlfriend, a socially-conscious business that helps women worldwide gain and sustain economic security and recently wrote a book with the same name. Tickets are $25 and $5 from every ticket sold will benefit Red Canyon High School programs.

In all, the event is devoted to celebrating women and empowering them on a global scale, said Besse Lynch, the Bookworm’s events and marketing coordinator.

Edgar’s company helps women worldwide rise out of poverty by providing a market for handmade, fairly traded goods. Online you can buy things like zulugrass necklaces from Kenya. Women in the Maasai tribe make the necklace beads from native grasses, which are harvested, dried, cut to size and dyed. There’s also lavendar sachets handmade by women who are a part of a sewing cooperative in Fonds des Blancs, Haiti. The cooperative began in 1996 and has been providing 80 women artisans with a way to make fair wages. There are brightly-colored shoulder bags made by a women’s cooperative in New Delhi, India. Women craft the colorful accessories from old saris.

“I’ll partially tell the story of my company, Global Girlfriend, and its history,” Edgar said during a phone interview last week. “I don’t think we’ve done anything magical, actually we’ve done something very possible.

“When I first started, I did live events. I went to women’s houses and churchs and got to be the bridge, talking with girlfriends here in the U.S. about my girlfriends abroad and some of their challenges,” she continued.

Now Global Girlfriend buys products from 60 groups in 21 different countries, including the U.S., Edgar said. The company then sells the products on its own website, http://www.globalgirlfriend.com, in Whole Foods stores, on target.com and at hundreds of boutiques. She spent three years writing “Global Girlfriends: ,” which was released earlier this month. At the event, Edgar will sign copies of the book, which details how the company came about and “tells some of the stories of the women and the things they’ve been able to overcome and achieve by opening small businesses,” she said.

Some women who lived in the slums of Nairobi were able to send their children to school because of money they’ve earned making jewelry, ornaments and handbags.

“We’ve been working with them for several years and have turned into one of our really quality wholesale producers,” Edgar said.

Global Girlfriend works with another group of six women in the Congo who are all handicapped.

“They’ve been able to buy land and build homes,” Edgar continued.

Back to Dumolt and what’s she’s learned over the course of the year in her class about women in developing countries and their struggles.

“It amazed me how these girls who are going through such hard things, and have grow up in poverty, with so very litltle, but how happy they are, and how much they enjoy some of the smallest things, despite that,” said Dumolt, who is a sophomore at Red Canyon High School.

Dumolt said that while she “always realized” that women in other countries have it much harder than American women, she didn’t know the extent. She took the class in part so she could find out.

“I really wanted to learn about what they’re doing to help girls around the world,” Dumolt said.

And what has she learned?

For starters, that education is the key to “breaking the cycle,” said.

Dumolt would like to go somewhere like Cambodia, and help build schools and make people aware of how it important it is, for an entire society, that women are educated.

“If they’re not educated, the cycle keeps going,” she said.

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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