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As an overwhelmingly feminist school, Wenona does not contain the celebration of women to just one day. International Women’s Day (IWD) connects women all over the world as we celebrate women’s social, political and economic advancement over the past 100 years, but it also serves as a timely reminder that there is still so much to do to achieve gender parity.
Our week began with an incredibly thought-provoking speech at our IWD Assembly. Guest speaker, Nicole Hercus, a Senior Consultant who specialises in Learning and Development, Talent Management and Human Resources, spoke powerfully and passionately about everyday women who have overcome terrible hardship, trauma and oppression to enact positive change.
This included the story of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi Arabian woman who bravely defied her country’s longstanding ban on female driving. Al-Sharif’s path to activism began in May 2011, when she filmed herself driving a car and uploaded the video to YouTube. Although she was arrested and thrown into prison, her decision to use social media proved an inspired choice. Al-Sharif’s video went viral; it was viewed 700,000 times on the first day alone and elicited outrage from around the world. Al-Sharif quickly became the face of the campaign to end the ban on women driving, forcing the Saudi Government to revoke a longstanding policy that has become a global symbol of the oppression of women there. As Ms Hercus pointed out, Al Sharif’s story was not only a compelling example of the power of social media to achieve gender parity, but also the importance of creatively and courageously speaking out against discrimination.
For our students, Ms Hercus’s speech served as a clarion call to embrace the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day and continue to press for progress!
On arrival at Wenona’s gates on International Women’s Day 2018, our students received white and black ribbons in recognition of the fight against domestic violence and Hollywood’s Time’s Up campaign to fight sexual harassment.
The Wenona Gender Equity Group held a bake sale and a barbeque – and to highlight to our students that our staff do not subscribe to gender stereotypes, our female teachers operated the barbeque and the male teachers baked and sold cakes!
The Group also hosted Wenona’s very first Gender Equity concert: Let’s Hear it for the Girls.
The events raised vital funds for the White Ribbon Foundation, which does incredible work in engaging men to make women’s safety a men’s issue too.
Tomorrow morning, 16 students from Years 9 to 12 will attend the annual International Women’s Day breakfast at the International Convention Centre hosted by UN Women National Committee (NC) Australia. For our students, it will be an opportunity to unite and network with other women and foster meaningful change for the future.
In the words of Dr Scott, “Every day is International Women’s Day at Wenona. Here's to strong women. May we know them! May we be them! May we raise them!”