Asia Sageman

The slim wallets made of red duct tape will only hold a few bills and some change – which is all Evanston Township High School senior Asia Sageman asks for as she distributes them to students, neighbors and friends. “Change for Change,” as she calls it, is intended not just to raise funds but to raise consciousness.

The money will go to organizations that promote education, health, safety and economic empowerment for women: More Than Me, whose goal is to help girls in Liberia get off the street and into schools; the Fistula Foundation, which runs a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that provides women with essential fistula surgeries; Kiva, an umbrella organization that facilitates micro loans between individuals; and Girls Not Brides, an organization working toward preventing child marriages.

Change for Change is only one aspect of Asia’s senior studies project. Her blog, “Of Women and Men, Boys and Girls: The Global Dilemmas of Gender Inequity,” is another. She has also written a curriculum proposal for a class in gender studies at ETHS and volunteers at GirlForward in Chicago.

Asia says she was “inspired to take on gender issues” after reading “Half the Sky,” by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. “Problems that surround women … affect everyone,” Asia said. The senior studies class, she added, “allows us to delve into our own passion.”

In her mid-term review of the project, Asia wrote, “Although I feel as if I had already waded in the vast subject of gender inequity when I began this project, I have learned a plethora of invaluable things throughout the last few months. I have not only delved deeper into the subjects surrounding gender issues and the status of women, I have also learned so much about motivation, spontaneity, perseverance and gumption. In order to do most senior studies projects one must step outside of their comfort zone to create a truly great product. … All of the things I have done have not only been intellectual learning adventures but social and emotional learning experiences as well.”

Shoppers at Market Fresh Books, 700 Church St., can leave their spare change in a box there.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...