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Student Blog: Promoting girl power

To commemorate the United Nations Annual International Day of the Girl Child, girls from across the year groups spoke at our Principal’s Assembly this week, about how to promote girl power.

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Molly and Madeline (Year 11)
Community and Service Learning Prefects

“As Community and Service Learning Prefects, this day holds a lot of importance to us as we believe it does for everyone at Wenona. Each year, International Day of the Girl Child has a different theme, which captures the prevalent issues that girls face around the world. This year’s theme is, ‘With Her: A Skilled Girl Force’. Given that women account for over 50% of the global population, it is in the interest of all men and women, that girls are educated, mentored, supported and ultimately empowered. Every girl has tremendous power and ability to achieve when they are supported by people who believe in them. Without widespread community support, her power is weakened. As Australian girls who are fortunate enough to attend this amazing private school, we can take our relative freedom and support for granted. So far, none of us have been disadvantaged in life because we are girls. Instead, we have been spoilt by opportunities and experiences, which have shaped who we are and what choices we make today.

However, alarmingly we have adopted a culture which drags girls down and diminishes their ability through unforgiving words. We must embrace the words of Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafazi: “Let us pick up our books and our pens as they are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” One girl, can make a difference with power and knowledge, and that girl can be you! As we look around this School, we see leaders of our future - young women who will contribute so much to our world.

International Day of the Girl Child is about embracing our roles as smart, positive and proactive young women and committing to make a difference. To learn something new, to share our knowledge, to support and empower other women to ensure our one united voice is heard. So come to Gender Equity on a Wednesday or join another club and be part of the action!”

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Natalie (Year 10)
“Speaking for myself, and I’m sure for a lot of you, I constantly hear amazing stories of women around the world who have advocated for things in extraordinary ways. We see women making inspiring speeches at the UN or creating influential movements and campaigns. However, I think having a voice, having influence and power, shouldn’t be dependent on speaking. It seems to me that to advocate for something you’re passionate about, something that means something to you, means you need a bold idea, when in reality, there are other mediums and platforms we can use to advocate for something and ensure change.

In reality, some of us here today aren’t ready to stand up and outwardly speak their opinion to the world. However, I believe that things like art, poetry or music are all vehicles that we can use to seek change and engage in advocacy. For me, music gives me a platform to inspire younger students and converse with other people who use their talents to advocate and educate others.

On Saturdays, I take part in a program with a wonderful woman, Joy, who has taught for decades, inspiring amateur musicians through her lifelong passion. With my friends, I have busked for charity. It’s an example of another way to find your voice. And it shows that there’s more to advocacy than being a confident speaker or having the loudest voice in the room. Find what you love and use it to unlock your own voice. Thank you!

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Dimity (Year 9)
“This year, I have been fortunate to be a member of the Student Alliance Networking Group (SANG). Created in 2014, with representatives from more than 20 girls’ schools across Sydney, SANG was formed to connect girls and bring to light the many issues that women face in today’s society.

Working in groups with girls from different schools, we chose a topic that relates to this year’s theme #pressforprogress, which is action towards change. There were many issues to choose from, including body image, domestic violence, finding a voice and the portrayal of women in the media. Our group shared our views and opinions on the topic, which ended up in an extremely productive conversation where we drew out our key thoughts and ideas in order to reach a general consensus of opinion. The overall aim is to put together a small video to present in a showcase, which will be judged by a panel.

I have broadened my understanding on many subjects affecting women, merely from hearing and accepting different voices from young women that I wouldn’t normally hear from. I encourage you all to get involved with SANG because it is a once in a lifetime experience to learn more about the current world we live in and have your voice heard.”

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India (Year 8)
“Every single day we are inspired by people and young women that we look up to. They teach us to be compassionate, to love, to be brave and to wake up every day with a purpose. One woman sure taught me all of that. Turia Pitt never stopped. A passionate and inspiring Australian who experienced a tragic event that changed her life. After running an ultramarathon through the outback, she encountered the fire that changed her life forever. She received burns to 65% of her body, lost seven fingers, endured six gruelling months in hospital, underwent over 200 operations and spent two years in recovery. Surviving against overwhelming odds, Turia has rebuilt her life and has defied every expectation placed on her. She is living proof that, with the right mindset, we truly can achieve anything. From this she has run an IRONMAN, created a happy family, raised over 3 million dollars in awareness for Interplast (a not-for-profit organisation that sends teams of volunteer plastic and reconstructive surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses to provide life-changing surgery and medical training across the Asia Pacific region) and inspired people all over the world. This is proof that with the right mindset, we girls can make the changes we want to see. So it’s time to start doing something! Thank you.”

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Kalara (Year 7)
“Only this year, free plastic bags have been pulled from major supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths. How long did it take for us to realise it was an issue? Well, five years ago two Balinese girls did something about it. At the ages of 12 and 10, sisters Melati and Isabel pinpointed one of the island’s biggest issues: trash! If you haven't been to Bali, believe me, it’s an issue! They focused on a goal they thought they could achieve and subsequently started the ‘Bye Bye Plastic Bags Bali’ campaign. After only a year of running their campaign, they managed to get the Governor of Bali to issue a decree to restrict the use of plastic bags in Bali. Five years later, they have accomplished so much, from organising mass beach clean-ups, to talking at international TED Talks in London, and have a partnership with the UN. Not only have they made a change in Bali, but also around the world, having over 20 Bye Bye Plastic Bag teams worldwide.”