by Caitlin Evans @ One Girl
One Girl has just launched their ‘Do It In A Dress’campaign, calling all Australians to complete challenges in school dresses this October in the aim of raising awareness and much needed funds to empower and facilitate the education of girls in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
On 19-20 October a group of Griffith University students will run the Relay for Life event as the “Legalites for Equal Rights”, in nothing more than a school dress. Their mission is to raise money which will give girls in Sierra Leone, West Africa access to education through scholarships, school rehabilitation projects and access to sanitary pads.
One of the students, Michelle Gunawan says, ” I’m really passionate about this cause because education has afforded me the ability to chase my dreams. The sad reality is that a lot of girls growing up in the developing world don’t have this ability.”
As well as running in the Relay for Life the law students will be holding school-dress themed market stalls, bake sales and parties.
This October marks the third annual ‘Do It In A Dress’ campaign. This year, the goal is to raise $500,000 to support the start-up Australian charity One Girl to run education projects in Sierra Leone. “It only costs $300 to send a girl in Sierra Leone to school for a whole year. With the support of people like Michelle Gunawan across Australia, we hope to empower more than 5,000 girls to become educated girls, women and mothers,” says Chantelle Baxter, co-founder of One Girl.
Last year saw over 700 people from all over the world ‘Do It In A Dress’, raising more than $270,000 to support One Girlto send girls in Sierra Leone to school, with participants across Australia and the world sky-diving, wake-boarding and running marathons – even Dave Hughes from Channel Ten’s The Project did it in a dress.
There are 60 million young girls around the world not in school, and in Sierra Leone, only one in six girls get the opportunity to go to school. Since 2009, One Girlhas funded scholarship for 150 girls, building new classrooms, and business training.
“The impact of sending just one girl to school is undeniable: she will marry later, have a smaller and healthier family, and for every year a girl stays in school she’ll increase her income by at least 10%, investing 90% of it back into her family,” says Chantelle.
“It doesn’t matter what activity you do, just as long as you do it in a school dress!”
Relay for Life: http://www.relayforlife.org.au
The 2013 Griffith University Relay For Life will be held at Griffith University (Gold Coast campus) on October 19 & 20 (3pm-9am).
Teams of up to 15 people keep a baton moving in a relay-style walk or run overnight – 18 hours straight – during which they celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer and fight back against a disease that takes too much.
Girls education in Sierra Leone:
Only 1 in 6 girls in Sierra Leone has the chance to attend high school 
Almost a third of girls in Sierra Leone will be married and pregnant before their 15th birthday 
Some barriers to girls getting an getting an education include: poverty, disease, a lack of safe environment, and a preference to send boys to school.
About One Girl:
One Girl is a start-up non-profit organisation founded in 2009 by Melbuornians Chantelle Baxter and David Dixon.
One Girl works in Sierra Leone, West Africa to give girls access to education through their Back To School program. So far One Girl has provided 150 girls across Sierra Leone scholarships to attend school, and in the 2013-14 academic year this will increase to 200.
One Girl has also started a school ‘awesomisation’ program, which helps to rehabilitate schools. This includes building new toilets, classrooms and staff rooms.
Their LaunchPad program trains local women in communities to start conversations about menstrual health and hygiene, and empowers and trains them to sell affordable, biodegradable sanitary pads to the women in their communities.
For more information about One Girl’s work in West Africa, visit: www.onegirl.org.au
To join the Do It In A Dress campaign, head to: www.doitinadress.com