News International Women’s Day 10.03.2023

International Women’s Day became International Women’s Week with a number of fantastic talks from inspiring guest speakers. 

We kicked off our celebrations on Tuesday with several members of our Upper Sixth presenting on a range of topics linked to the global challenges facing women. Alex (women, life, freedom protests in Iran), Orla (threats to women’s rights in Afghanistan) and Edie (health and education challenges facing women in Mali, including FGM) led a discussion forum which examined issues of inequality in a range of countries, as well as highlighting ways in which women are bravely campaigning for greater equality and social justice. They led an open Q&A which centred around the efficacy of sanctions in bringing about changes in policy towards women and the role of education in addressing some of these challenges.

On the official International Women’s Day, Mrs Leigh Burns with Eva and Caroline from Year 11, discussed the volunteering programme they participate in to the Middle School. Mrs Burns, Eva, and Caroline provided an overview of the war in Afghanistan with a focus on the experiences of Afghan refugees in the UK. They provided an insight into the social and cultural issues faced by refugees and the reality of life in a new country. Eva and Caroline discussed their experience of helping to tutor Afghan children as a hugely rewarding experience, and the talk stressed the importance of coming together to help those in our community.

Also on Wednesday, Narguess Farzad delivered a fantastic talk to Year 10 and above on the current campaigning for women’s rights in Iran. Narguess is a convenor of Persian modules and senior lecturer at SOAS. She is also the Chair of the Centre of Iranian Studies and Honorary Secretary at the British Institute of Persian Studies at the British Academy. The students learnt about the history of the fight for women’s rights in Iran, and the courageous action currently taking place in Iran, and many other countries in solidarity, in reaction to the death of Mahsa Amini whilst in police custody. Narguess highlighted that freedom of choice to wear a hijab or headscarf, and access to a safe education for all is at the centre of the protests. The talk was insightful and illuminating for our students and staff alike.

Wednesday was also Children’s Rights Awareness Da,y and the school’s Amnesty Team marked the day with an assembly on important women who have championed children’s rights. There was also a chance to sign petitions on Amnesty-related causes and add messages to our Children’s Rights Wall. At lunchtime there was a screening of He Named Me Malala, which looks at the events leading up to the Taliban’s attack on Malala Yousafzai, and how she emerges as a leading advocate for children’s rights and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. 

Students really engaged with the themes of the week which celebrated the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and it was fantastic to see them take a deep dive into a number of thought-provoking discussions around inequality and the need to accelerate gender parity.