The House

Women in Politics and Government Program

Canberra Girls Grammar School launched its Women in Politics and Government program, The House, on International Women’s Day in 2021.

The program equips CGGS students with a range of skills required to follow a career in politics or government. The House enables girls of character, competence, confidence and consideration to commit to being women of power who lead change for an equitable and sustainable future.

UN Women notes that currently, worldwide, 25% of national parliamentarians and 36% of local government positions are held by women, while only 21% of ministers are women. Without intervention, and projecting from current trends, parity in parliamentary places held will not be achieved before 2063, while women holding an equal number of Head of State positions will possibly be attained by 2150.

The imperative of preparing young women to develop an equitable and sustainable vision of the future that will fulfil a duty of care to the citizens of that future, and to do so through the political praxis which models that care, is at least as important as that of equipping them to deal with the political arena as it exists. This is the aim of The House.

The program is inclusive of CGGS students from Years 6 – 12 and takes the time to effectively prepare young women through a combination of subject-based learning, experiential learning beyond the classroom and engagement beyond the school gates. Guided by a team of educators, mentors and professionals, the students actively participate in developing the program.

And who better than the girls’ school up the hill from Parliament House to lead this program?

The House

The Emergence

Over 10 years ago, the then CGGS Debating and Public Speaking (DPS) Captain, Georgia Lourandos, provided the catalyst for the birth of The House. Georgia accomplished a sea change in how leadership was envisioned and practiced. She framed leadership as being about enabling every member of DPS to be the best debater and/or public speaker they could and to have the best possible experience of their participation in DPS. Moreover, Georgia mentored a successor who carried on the vision of a new form of leadership.

In the following years, DPS has doubled in size to over 10% of the student body. It became increasingly clear that being a member of DPS provided more than a fun platform for debating contests and the bonus of learning to write better essays and deliver improved orals. It was providing a context for leadership training. Students gained positions in the Student Council, the most senior leadership positions in the School, and beyond into their post-school studies and careers.

Other initiatives have been developed by different groups of students like The Lilac Foundation project. In 2018, a group of CGGS Year 9 girls discovered the work of Marion Mahony Griffin and were astonished that not only had they never heard of her influential work in the design of the city of Canberra but that there was no public recognition of Marion’s integral work. Over the course of two years, the girls worked closely with multiple mentors and organisations including the National Capital Authority to create bronze plaques to illustrate the importance of Marion’s work in the development of Canberra. The plaques were not made, but their passion and legacy has inspired others in the community to make significant change.

And that student agency is what will make The House, a program to stay. 

The Pledge

As part of The House program’s service and philanthropy projects, a group of CGGS students are seeking the community’s help to raise funds for a monument to the only female Prime Minister in the history of Australia, Ms Julia Gillard.

Year 12 student, Jaimie Noonan, makes an impassioned call to support the recognition of the contribution of women to this country.

In her video pledge, Jaimie reminds us that only three per cent of statues are dedicated to women in Australia who are not royals or fictional characters. Her research shows that, in fact, there are more statutes of animals than women in our country.

Watch Jaimie’s pledge:  

  

If you would like to help the students’ cause, and contribute towards the creation of a monument, please contact the School at GabrielFoundation@cggs.act.edu.au or 6202 6400. 

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