Half the Sky Working Towards Equality


Mary Agne

Half the Sky at their “Bead for Life” sale

Elise Johnson, Features Writer


Half the Sky is the gender equality club at Wilmington Friends School. According to Half the Sky clerk Bella Stuccio ’19, “It (Half the Sky) is about bringing all genders to a stance of justice.” The young women and men in this club typically discuss current events involving gender equality, and while these topics typically revolve around women, many relate to men as well.

Half the Sky was founded by Jodi Lessner ’16 during her sophomore year at Friends. In 2015, Lessner did a TEDx talk on feminism where she talked about the stigma around the word feminist. During the video, she argued that “to identify as a feminist simply means to identify as someone who believes in equality between the genders.” She also talked about the sexualization of women in the media and the negative effects it has on young girls, the stereotyping of women, and the lack of women in high positions in the government. Lessner finished by challenging the audience to fight gender inequality in their everyday lives.

The club is currently sponsored by Kathryn Kenney, WFS English teacher, and is run by students, Stuccio and Mary Agne ’18. The student clerks bring articles, stories, videos or other “artifacts,” as Kenney refers to them, to discuss with the group. These artifacts may come from American culture or other cultures from around the world. The discussion is open to everyone, but it is led by the clerks who ask the questions and add their own input as well.

Half the Sky is engaged in a variety of different activities. During their first meeting after the winter break, Half the Sky watched Oprah Winfrey’s speech from Golden Globe Awards and discussed the Time’s Up movement; during another meeting they wrote letters to local politicians to remind them of their responsibility to the people.

While this club is mostly discussion based, it also works closely with an organization called Beads for Life. This foundation provides opportunities for Ugandan women living in poverty to sell paper beads and to learn about business so that they will be able to support themselves in the long term. The Beads for Life sale took place during the Winter Concert in the Java Nook last December, and as of now they do not plan on having another event for Beads for Life. All of the money from the event is sent to Beads for Life women.

It is important to note that Half the Sky welcomes all genders, not just girls. James Tallman ’19 stated that “Feminism is about equality, not about one side being better than the other. It is good to have the male perspective presented because these are issues that affect us all.” The best way to gain equality between the genders is by having representatives from all of the various gender types working together towards a common goal.
When asked why this club is relevant to Wilmington Friends School and in general, Kenney responded, “It is a very relevant topic. It’s something that is changing traditions that are a melinia old. It is difficult, but also making changes that will promote equality in the future.” Half the Sky is working to break down gender stereotypes, bring women to a position of power, and provide equal opportunities for all.

As of right now, the club is planning and discussing new events to do for the rest of the year in order to get the entire school more involved. One possibility is another fundraiser to support women and girls in need. If interested, the club meets on Day 3 with great topics planned for discussion.