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Celebrating The International Day of the Girl

This week, Wenona marked the International Day of the Girl Child with an inspirational presentation by Lexi, Karoy, Alex and Ruby.

Karoy Head Shot

Karoy said, “Each year, 11 October marks the International Day of the Girl. So, let’s use this day as an opportunity to be inspired by the positive changes we see around us and use our voices to call for the changes we want to see in the world.

Despite the brave efforts to speak up and act for change, progress for girls has not kept pace with the realities we face today. The violation of girls’ (and womens’) rights in Afghanistan this year show us what can happen when our voices are silenced and ignored.

Since the seizure of Kabul, the Taliban government has been imposing a series of laws that radically restrict the freedom of girls and women. They are already making moves to banish girls from schools and higher education, and women from public life, telling them to stay inside and threatening them at demonstrations. Significantly, they have failed to include a single woman in their new interim government despite women being part of the previous administration and despite promises to be inclusive. This seriously impacts the role models and career opportunities of Afghan girls.

Even though they faced the threat of the Taliban, a group of Afghan women stood up and demanded the right to education, work and participation in the government.

While women in Afghanistan are using their voices to fight for their beliefs and their rights, we too can fight for a better world. We encourage you to use the International Day of the Girl as an opportunity to be informed and to speak up for something you care about, even if this means simply reposting an Instagram story from @Impact to raise awareness. Please remember that your voice matters and it makes an impact.”

Ruby Mackay_Cruise

Ruby said, “How does the International Day of the Girl have an impact on us or have relevance to our lives? Well, we implore you to use your voice. Whether this is speaking up against misogynistic comments or misconceptions or using your voice to stand up for women who do not have this privilege.

While we realise that speaking up won’t directly solve girls’ access to education or bring human rights for all women, just by staying informed and spreading awareness, you can help all women have an equal future. Given what's happening in Afghanistan, with the Taliban banning girls from pursuing secondary education, or news closer to home such as the lack of female representation in the Coalition Party, it is imperative that we stay informed, share information and teach others about gender equality as this will empower us to advocate for change.

Don’t worry, we understand how difficult it can be to push back against those arguments from your brothers or their friends from local boys’ schools, or even the uninformed girl sitting next to you, but we got you!”

Alexis Strasser

Lexi said, “You’re completely right Ruby! Speaking out without information can be very difficult. So, this leads me to remind you of the Gender Equity initiative from the past year: The Pushback Pack! So, what is it? Well, The Pushback Pack contains 10 cards, with each card relating to a specific misconception or area. On the other side, you will find relevant and referenced statistics. For example, one card relates to the misconception that the gender pay gap isn’t real, with information and evidence to counter it. This is free and easy-to-access information that will help you to be better informed and advocate for change. We will be emailing it to you, so download it on your phone so that you always have this information at your fingertips.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to promote the Gender Equity Club. It’s a once-a-fortnight commitment, it keeps you up to date with the latest news, gives you a forum to discuss issues of concern and offers you an opportunity to support gender equity issues that you care about. There’s always food available (#bribingwithbrownies) and opportunities to connect with girls throughout the School.”

Alex Brennan round

Alex said, “As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl, it’s an opportunity to recognise the struggles that some girls face, as well as the influence that they have on our modern world. Let me highlight some of the young women that I personally find incredibly inspirational to help shine some positivity on this important date.

When Marley Dias was 14-years-old, she became disillusioned by the fact that all the books available to her seemed to be about ‘white men and their dogs’. She set about amending this, distributing more than 11,000 books with black protagonists to schools, libraries and communities around the world. In her words, “Changing the world shouldn’t feel imaginary, but something you have the power to do today and always.”

Then there are the Scientists, Ciara Judge, 16, Émer Hickey, 17, and Sophie Healy-Thow, 17, who took home the grand prize at the Google Science fair with a bacteria-related discovery they made, which the judges believe could play a crucial role in solving the global food crisis.

And finally, there is Amika George. After hearing that charities that provide menstrual products to girls in Africa were having to redirect their products to Leeds, England, as girls in the UK couldn’t afford them, Amika decided to take action to fight the UK’s period poverty. Amika founded #FreePeriods when she was 17-years-old. To raise awareness, she organised a protest of more than 2,000 people dressed in red. In response to the surmounting pressure, the British Government were forced to take action, announcing in March 2019, that they would fund free sanitary products in all English schools and colleges.

Even if you don’t personally identify as a girl, as a community we can all celebrate these young women’s achievements. Please don’t feel intimidated by them, but instead use them as a springboard to boost belief in your own capacity to ignite change for the issues you care about – particularly when you consider our position of privilege. Thank you for your time and go give a girl a high-five!”