Lily Project celebrates a stellar year of service for SDG #5

by HS Lily Project members

The Lily Project is a Global Issues Network initiative that strives to help our world reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls.” The Lily Project seeks to contribute towards achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls by advocating for those affected, raising awareness of the various issues caused by gender inequality, and engaging with our community to improve the livelihoods of women and girls.. This year, we have hosted and engaged in a variety of events to work towards ending discrimination against girls and women, particularly involving education and menstruation.

To start the year off, the Lily Project team worked with Innerfit360 and EGRC (Educating Girls of Rural China), to host a spin-a-thon fundraiser. The goal of this event was to battle the unequal access to quality education for girls in less developed regions in China by raising money through fitness classes to sponsor girls in Gansu province to attend school. On October 10, we hosted three spin classes and asked participants for a donation of 100RMB per class. At the end of the day, 52 individuals attended, and we raised a total of 16,155RMB for EGRC’s school scholarship program. Shortly after sending the proceeds to EGRC, we received word that our donation was enough to sponsor a young high school girl to attend all 4 years of school on a full scholarship. With the support and help of our community, the Lily Project was able to use this event as an opportunity to make a true positive impact in the fight for gender equality in education. 

This winter, the Lily Project also had the opportunity to further support EGRC at Concordia’s annual Christmas Bazaar. We worked with the EGRC team to gather and sell a variety of their merchandise, such as reusable tote bags and pins. In order to support further endeavors for the project, we also created and sold our own laptop stickers and coloring books with the theme of gender equality. The Bazaar event was a huge success and we are so grateful to everyone who attended and expressed interest in our organization. The Lily Project is proud to have continued to cultivate a stronger relationship with EGRC and support our mutual goal of women’s equality of opportunity in education. 

This spring, the Lily Project banded together to explore sustainable options for menstruation. We invited the high school girls to partake in a conversation we called the Sustainable Cycles Seminar. At the event, which took place over a combined flex time/lunch hour we discussed period taboos and misconceptions, the health and environmental aspects of single-use period products as well as sustainable period options. The presentations were followed by audience questions and we provided information to the group about how to order sustainable period supplies from a local supplier. This event, too, was a great success. 

Lily Project also partnered with Half The Sky, Dulwich College’s women’s rights club that advocates for empowering women and eradicating period poverty. We met one evening, listening to and learning from each other about a plethora of presentations regarding women and gender equality. Each of us brought a different viewpoint on each of the topics and as we discussed, we realized that empowering girls and women in our community can come in a variety of different forms. While it was great to discuss these topics, perhaps the even more important implication of meeting Half The Sky was meeting another group of powerful, intelligent girls (and a boy). This event connected us to the people in our neighboring school and proved to us that we are not alone in our goal of keeping our community well-informed about gender equality.

On International Women’s Day, the Lily Project had the privilege of hosting a photoshoot. Using templates and posters from the official internationalwomensday.com website, several students and staff participated in the #ChoosetoChallenge movement —- check out our Instagram for the final pictures! In addition to hosting this photoshoot, each member of the Lily team chose an influential woman and learned her story. From racial equality advocates to athletes, these women have impacted our world for the better.

In late March, our team got the chance to present to the eighth grade girls about transitioning into high school. Overall, we covered the topics of CCAs and sports, workload and time management, study habits, healthy habits, comparison and conforming, and social life in high school. The gap between middle school and high school is a difficult one in various aspects and, as a team, we were fortunate to have this opportunity to empower and encourage these girls to both push themselves and create a sense of balance. In all, the Lily Project hopes to take part in more events like these, where the team can interact with girls of our school community and show support for one another.

In accordance with our main overall goal to become more active in serving our community, we also decided to expand our influence onto the digital sphere and establish a strong presence on Instagram. We had previously established an Instagram account (early in 2020), but this year we started putting significant time and effort into cultivating a digital space that was both educational and inspiring. Throughout the course of this year, we carried out 3 social media campaigns, each composed of 3-6 posts and encompassing a different dimension of our mission: Period Poverty, #periodstories (real life stories closely connected to our student body related to period taboos), and Influential Women in History, not to mention posts introducing our team members and recapping our events. We received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from people who had either been inspired by our posts or felt that their eyes had been opened to gender inequalities that prevail in our world. A year ago, we would have never been able to imagine the change we have been able to make through this Instagram account and we are excited about what we will continue to achieve through it. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this year, and we can’t wait to see what greater impact we can make in the future!

Photos: 

Top: Lily members during the photo shoot they organized for International Women's Day. All Concordians could come and be photographed with posters and slogans supporting International Women's Day and the targets of SDG #5 for Gender Equality.

Middle: Lily leaders with representatives from EGRC (Educating Girls in Rural China) at the September spin-a-thon event to raise awareness and funds to support a high school student in Yunnan province. 

Bottom: Concordia's Lily members partner with Dulwich College's Half The Sky group to align efforts around SDG #5.