Stepping Up Early for Gender Equality

Meet Isabelle Jeffries, one of our enthusiastic fundraisers! She recently organised her own fundraising and awareness-raising campaign “Step it up for Gender Equality!” at the GEMS Holiday Bazaar last 1 December on behalf of the Singapore Committee for UN Women. She raised over $700 by selling second-hand books, toys, and clothes. And she’s eleven years old.

Inspired to stand up for gender equality while watching Emma Watson’s speech at the UN inaugurating the #HeForShe campaign in 2014. She was shocked at finding out about the larger inequalities between men and women going on around the world.

 

Since then, she’s done more research—and started to notice other inequalities in her own personal experiences. “I was on a school tour once, and was at that time interested in computer coding,” she recalled. “There were only two students on that tour: me and another boy. My family and I asked the tour guide to introduce us to the teacher so we could talk to him about my hobby. But when the teacher came over, he immediately assumed that the boy was the student interested in coding and completely ignored me and my family. He had assumed girls were not interested in coding. That really left an impression on me.”

 

She’s organised fundraisers for other charities before—raising money for homeless people in Melbourne as early as Grade Four. “I wanted to contribute to society, and at the same time, make a difference to people’s lives,” Isabelle said. All the money she raised at that time went to a homeless organisation. She continued to raise money for the same cause for the next two years after that. “It felt good to do something positive for other people,” she said.

 

But she’s not done: “There’s still work to do to make sure women have as many opportunities as men,” she said. She plans to work with the Singapore Committee for UN Women in raising more awareness at her school, which has more than 1,000 students. “Even if just a few start thinking and talking about gender equality issues, then I will have been successful,” she said. One step at a time, Isabelle!