Nazareth College Freshman Raises $60K for Women in Iraq and Kenya

Posted on August 17, 2012, by Lizzie Presser, Half the Sky Movement

Cherise Madigan is not your ordinary college freshman. In the past year, she has founded an organization dedicated to women’s equality, established partnerships with international groups and activists working to empower women, and raised nearly $60,000 for women and girls in Iraq and Kenya –– all inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.  

“I liked how [Nick and Sheryl] included a section in the book on how particular women are working to combat serious issues,” Cherise said in an interview. “It made me think, why not me? Why wait to have a degree to start a non-profit when I can just do it now?”


Cherise Madigan participates in the Clinton Global Initiative University Meeting. 



The peace and justice studies major at Nazareth college now manages a team of six in Rochester, New York, that partners with the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) and the Tania Centre, a rehabilitation center in Kiserian, Kenya, where many students are victims of gender-based violence. Cherise’s organization, The Feminine Alliance (TFA), speaks with activists and NGO workers on the ground about needed materials, then sends the requested aid packages to victims of aggression in Iraq and health and educational packages to students in Kenya.


Cherise’s efforts abroad are remarkable, but her creativity to raise awareness and funds at home deserves just as much attention. With the help of a few grants, The Feminine Alliance sells TFA gear, partners with local grocery stores to allow customers to round costs to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to TFA, and holds campus events to challenge gender norms and galvanize student support. Last year, they hosted a donation-based prom dress rugby event and a womanless beauty pageant to name just a couple. “We try to do things out of the ordinary,” she explained. And it’s working.


Cherise Madigan with Melanie Beacham and Mikella Ackerly hold a workshop on gender equality. 



Looking ahead, Cherise is hoping to expand their work to Lithuania and Nicaragua. “We want to make some small difference in achieving the gender equality dream,” the 18-year-old explains. At this pace, she’s on track to make quite a big difference. 


Follow The Feminine Alliance on Facebook and check out their website to learn more.

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