From the Deputy Principal
What an inspiring week we have had this week with International Women’s Day on Tuesday and the SRC initiative of Supergirl Week bringing the power of the girl to our focus. There has been much dialogue about the issues facing women and girls, so much dreaming for a future where gender parity is a reality, so much celebration of the gifts of creation given to girls and women.
From the lunchtime and House activities of Supergirl Week, the screening of “He Named me Malala” and the panel discussion of Tuesday’s Spirituality Evening, Wednesday’s assembly where Siobhan O’Malley gave strong testimony to the power of dreams and where girls’ achievements in the areas of sport, creative arts, social justice and academia were celebrated, to the Student Soapbox where views and opinions were expressed, to the work happening in classes, I am left with an overwhelming confidence that the future is in good hands; that our girls will continue the work to be done in the ‘unfinished business’ of issues facing women and girls. Their Loreto education means wonderful things for their families, society and world. In Mary Ward we are gifted the model of a woman who draws on strength of character, conviction and unwavering faith to respond to need and to pursue what is right and just.
As I attended the various events, I found myself scribbling down discussion points. These notes have sat in my pockets and been collecting on my desk and as I revisit them, I realise how much wisdom, hope and challenge rests in what has been expressed. Here are some of the messages, issues, themes and questions which have come to the surface:
- Representation of women in our Parliaments and local government, on corporate boards and in senior leadership roles
- The power of language in challenging gender role stereotypes
- Gender expectations imposed on boys and girls from a young age, and the influence of media and advertising in perpetuating this
- The unconscious bias which enters decision making of those in positions of authority, in our relationships, in society and in our own thinking
- Pay gap and pay inequality. What are the structures and assumptions that block equal pay?
- What’s happening in boys’ schools?
- The impact of positive relationships between fathers and their daughters
- The power of male champions for change
- Women’s rights are human rights
- Education as the key to combatting the oppression of girls and women
- Ordinary people making a difference
- The ethical dividend being asked of our girls receiving a Loreto education in this country at this point in time
- Why is “like a girl” allowed to be used as an insult?
- The imperative to choose whether to be silent or whether to stand up
- Stereotypes of girls portrayed in social media and the impact of this on girls
- Pressure to have a lot of Facebook likes on girls’ profile pictures
- Portrayal of women in the media and the unrealistic expectations set around body image
- Rights of transgender women
- Valuing care roles that all people play at various points in their lives
- Need for women role models in position of power and influence
- Is having children the only role women have to play in society? How is care valued more broadly by our society?
It can sometimes seem that there’s a lot to be done and this can become overwhelming, but this week has been full of hope and has also allowed us to recognise the significant achievements and the progress that has been made in the empowerment and rights of women. The discourse of this week has been motivating, inspiring and uplifting. One such source of insight comes from Charlotte Ainsworth of Year 10. Charlotte recently gave a Speech as part of the CSDA Public Speaking Competition. Charlotte chose to speak about sexism in politics, an issue which interests her greatly. I offer it to you here in light of the week we have had so that you can consider this topic from a young person’s perspective.
Ms Marina Ugonotti