01.09.12 / Category: Volunteer Spotlights

New Labels, New Hope

Many of the professional women connected to sorority members gathered together last month at the Association for Fraternity and Sorority Advisors annual meeting. Yet again, I was reminded of why I’m building a personal connection to the Circle of Sisterhood.

I believe we can figure out a social solution to repairing the disparity in education for girls in the developing world.

We’re admittedly a privileged bunch. The women in the Circle of Sisterhood are employed and paid wages within the first world, have the freedom to vote and engage civically, and have financial resources that place us in the top 4% of the global female income earners of all time. The women who serve with me are educated, empowered, globally connected professionals who come from a number of colleges and universities from coast to coast. We are connecting the problem of educational disparity with young women who, like us, benefit from the education of our mothers, sisters, and friends.

It used to bother me that women of privilege may be seen as patronizing. Sorority women? Who seemingly care about coffee clatches, Founders Day teas, Greek week skits, and homecoming tailgates, who now also care about educational opportunities for women in Asia, Africa, and South America?

I used to wonder if people would take our story seriously, a true story of hope. I don’t anymore.

Social activity is the primary method women use to get things done. We gather together around a problem. We socialize as we serve. Women connect problems with problem solvers, hope with the hopeful. I believe we do that because we understand a basic human need to stand hand in hand and walk in the same direction together.

It’s easy to step up and contribute your time, talent, or treasure to the work of the Circle of Sisterhood. If you are on a campus, as a student or a professional, you can Connect the mission of COS and share the book “Half the Sky” with students, colleagues, or friends. Hosting a book club in your office, or a brown bag conversation with your NPHC and Panhellenic executive boards is a great first step.

If you are focused on an outlet for monetary giving, gather your friends for an activity you would do anyway (a dinner, night out, or movie) and invite them to your home for dinner and a movie instead. They can donate the funds they would have spent on a night out to the Circle. Hosting a “Circle of Sisterhood Night In” is one quick and easy way to socialize with friends and support women worldwide.

My membership in Delta Gamma is a calling, and that calling matches the call to action in a multitude of sororities represented within the Circle of Sisterhood. The clean, deceptively simple expectation to “Do Good” is a tall order, and I’m lucky enough to have that calling enhanced by my professional relationship with Tri Sigma, an organization who shares DG’s primary value of hope.I used to wonder how sororities could find the capacity to respond to global issues, and I’ve seen that question answered by the actions of women from across the country. The women in the Circle of Sisterhood, and our supporters and friends understand that when you walk a girl into a classroom, and equip her with the opportunity to learn, you walk her away from a rice field, or a silk mill, or a sweatshop, or a brothel. You give her hope.

We’ve got a problem, and I have no doubt that the solution lies within the hearts and minds of the motivated members of sororities. Our organizations were founded to create a space for women to transcend the boundaries of cultural, racial, and gender based oppression. It was an act of bravery for women to gather together in the name of support and scholarship. In the 1700’s, the identity of a woman was most often limited to “wife”, “mother”, “friend”. When our social organizations were founded, other labels became possible. Those brave acts allowed women to add a new potential title next to their names.

Soror. Sister. Community Servant. Leader. Teacher. Student.

Until those labels are possible for all women, we’ve got work to do.

This blog was written by Cori Gilbert Wallace. Wallace is currently serving Tri Sigma as their Director of Marketing and Communications. She resides in St. Louis, MO with her husband Dave and volunteers for Delta Gamma Fraternity and The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation, among others.