Circle of Women aims to bring education to girls worldwide

By Chelsie Gastright, Organizations Editor

September 5, 2012

It can be easy to take for granted the things that are given and provided to us as American citizens. Things like freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion we choose, and getting an education are just a few of the privileges. However, in many countries, freedom of speech, religion and the option to get an education is scarce and is especially scarce for women.

In March of this year, Kara Benkovich, current High Point University freshman, decided to bring a large part of her high school with her to college: Circle of Women.

Circle of Women is a non-profit, student run organization that works to bring education to places where women are unable to receive it. Benkovich started working towards creating the HPU chapter six months before moving in as a freshman.

The organization started at Harvard University in 2006 after three friends realized that a community in Afghanistan needed a school for girls. After many months of paperwork, what is now known as Circle of Women was officially recognized as a non-profit organization.

When Circle of Women started a chapter Benkovich’s high school, she knew she had to bring the experience with her to HPU.

“I think it’s really important that it benefits girls because there always seems like there is this power struggle between men and women,” said Benkovich, current Circle of Women president at the HPU chapter. “Girls don’t have as many opportunities in the Middle East. If women get access to education, they have a chance to do better with their lives.”

Katie Albright, vice president of Project Educate at HPU, also talked about how beneficial it is to be a part of Circle of Women, stressing the importance of allowing all people to receive an education.

“If you educate one person, that [person] could change the world. You don’t know what one person can do, so educate them,” said Albright.

While HPU’s chapter is not currently sending students on mission trips to build schools, the Harvard chapter has sent groups to Rhema, Keiri Reki, and Wonkhai.

Mission trips are a large part of Circle of Women, but Benkovich is finding other ways to make a difference. Two of the several events planned for this year include a fashion show that incorporates traditional Afghan clothing and powder puff football.

“When the women get to play football and the men do the cheerleading, I think that emphasizes the power that women can do what men do, and men can do what women do,” said Benkovich.

The money raised at these fundraisers will go directly to building new schools, supplying desks, pencils, pens, and more including some of the girl’s tuition and room and board.

As well as the fundraisers, Benkovich and Circle of Women plan on taking trips to local middle and high schools for Global Girls Day on Nov. 11 to educate students on the condition of women around the world.

Even though Circle of Women is new to HPU this year, it has not stopped the organization from gaining quite a following. By the end of the activities fair on Aug. 20, the signup list held 93 names and emails, and Benkovich could not be happier.

Albright and Benkovich both stressed that even if you cannot be involved with the organization as a whole, simply being involved in the fundraising events is going to make a difference.

Circle of Women is “women helping other women” receive something that we as Americans can sometimes take for granted.

“It shows it’s not cookie cutter and that not everyone gets an education,” said Benkovich.

An education is more than just 13 years in a classroom, but an opportunity for women around the world to break through diversity and begin new lives for themselves.

For more information on the organization, you can contact Kara Benkovich (benkok12@highpoint.edu), visit their Facebook page by searching HPU Circle of Women Branch or visit the main website: www.circleofwomen.org