Last week I had the privilege of sharing International Women’s Day (IWD) with some incredible young women from our School who I know will go on to achieve great things.
The United Nation’s theme for 2019 International Women’s Day is Think Equal. Build Smart. Innovate for Change. The organisation encourages all girls and women to investigate how innovation can remove the barriers to gender equality. This helped inform and inspire my messages to the girls via email and reinforced in assembly this week. This is what I had to say…
As the United Nations (UN) states, from mobile banking to artificial intelligence and the internet of things, it is vital that the ideas of girls and women shape our future societies. In summary, we need to continue to maintain our focus and be a voice and a defender of rights for females all over the world. Additionally, girls and women need to, equally, drive and design the solution.
Girls, begin with your friends and family and regardless of gender, treat every person with respect and care. Be kind to yourself, tread lightly and be kind to others.
I hope you have an opportunity to pause and wish each other Happy IWD. Find time today to discuss how you might be able to intelligently move the imbalance of access to opportunities and remove barriers to gender equality.
The messages we heard at IWD events in 2019 from the panellists and speakers encouraged our girls to be influential, be self-aware, be financially literate and across their lives to be financially independent, be resilient, think about our own biases and be ready to find humour, educate yourself, seek leadership opportunities at the grassroots level as well as the most influential and powerful leadership roles.
While these points are crucial to the future of equality, what is just as important is that our students listen to what's being said, ponder the ideas and then decide where they sit on certain matters. I don't expect them to always agree with what I have to say, I want them to form their own ideas and opinions.
To this end, I received responses from the student body, one of which I would like to share with you:
Dear Mrs Owen,
After your highly informative presentation at assembly this morning, I started thinking, and I thought I'd share the thoughts you've provoked. Along with a friend of mine, I realised that the remaining 5 metres of our 100 metre race might be easier to finish than we realise.
Personally, I think that the problem does not lie in the equity between genders, but the perspectives in which we view the issue.
We were given plenty of examples of men in powerful positions in society, but I think we fail, as women, to acknowledge the progress we have made. In other words, I think that we should be focusing on the women who have broken boundaries and stereotypes and proven that what we want to achieve is possible rather than the places where we have not yet reached that point.
We should be inspiring positive action, not anger.
Susan Wojcik is a wonderful example of this. She is currently the CEO of one of, if not the largest media company in the world today: YouTube.
I think that as a population, our perspective needs to change. To bridge the gap between genders, I believe that we all need to start, instead of talking about the copious examples of where females are represented minimally, discuss and learn from many women who have set a foundation for us all to build on.
Of course, this is just my opinion, but I thought you might enjoy hearing the questions and conversations your presentation has provoked in the student body.
Sarah Palmer (Year 9) (and her friend, Elizabeth Shaw)
At CGGS we are working towards a world where young women are empowered and as educators, we listen and collaborate with them. I am delighted to see such strong conviction coming through from students at all levels and look forward to hearing more of the student voice as the year progresses.