Sunday, 8 March was International Women’s Day and Queensland also celebrates Women’s Week between the 6 and 15 March. These events provide many opportunities for our girls to access aspirational women and acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world.
Last week, one of our Year 12 students, Alyssa-Jane Nicholls, participated in the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy’s (QMEA) Girls in Resources Mentoring Program, hosted at QUT in Brisbane. This program is only available to students from the 17 Queensland schools in partnership with QMEA. As part of the six-month program, top women from Queensland’s resources sector mentor the girls to help them achieve their desired career pathways.
This provides girls with access to good role models which supports their entry to the resources sector and to the opportunities available to women in this area. The mentors provide girls with guidance around topics such as time management, goal setting, effective communication and resilience. 80 percent of the girls who took part in last year’s program have gone on to study science, technology engineering and maths related studies or have taken up associated apprenticeships.
On Thursday, Alyssa was also able to attend the QRC/WIMARQ* International Women’s Day breakfast in Brisbane. The event was also live streamed and science teacher Christie Dey took four of our girls to a Hastings Deering hosted breakfast where they could watch through a webcast. Guest speaker was Queensland’s first female police commissioner Katarina Carroll.
On Friday, Stacey McCarthy and I took six of our girls to the Zonta Club’s International Women’s Day Breakfast. Guest Speaker was Rockhampton Magistrate Philippa Beckinsale, who focused on the 2020 IWD theme #EachforEqual which emphasises that we can all actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create a gender equal world, which in turn creates an enabled world.
The Zonta Club’s breakfast is an annual event and we are pleased to support an organisation that participates in service projects that empower women worldwide and help women to achieve their aspirations and enjoy a better quality life. The Club works with government and community leaders to advocate for women’s issues locally and internationally and it also encourages and helps students to develop leadership skills, explore career options and participate in community projects.
Attending events like these breakfasts provides our girls with the opportunity to hear from inspirational women while networking with women working in careers in which they have an interest. They also have an opportunity to engage with our Old Girls, strong women who are great role models, supporters and advocates for our current students.
On Wednesday, our school’s usual blue and gold was highlighted by purple, the theme colour for International Women’s Day. Our girls wore badges and wrist bands and bunting was a reminder that not just this week, but every day, we should settle for nothing less than gender parity.
Wednesday, we also held our free dress day for the secondary school. Girls were invited to dress up as a woman who inspired them by stepping out of their comfort zones to change the world for the better. We had historical figures, scientists, mathematicians, athletes, movie stars, activists and artists but we also had people dress up as their everyday heroes, the women in their lives who, through their strength and resilience, continue to inspire us and allow us to flourish; our mothers, grandmothers, family members, teachers and friends.
At the primary assembly, I reminded the girls that they can follow any dream they want and they never have to let anyone tell them that they can’t. I want them to remember that the world is full of possibility and that as strong, brave, smart girls, they can do anything that want to do with their lives. My dream for them is that they learn to work hard, they develop the skill of persistence, they always act with kindness and they never, ever give up on their dreams!
International Women’s Day reminds us that gender inequalities still exist in the world today. It is a day for us to recognise the strong women who have forged the path and bought us to where we are today. It also a day to recognise and be grateful for the men and women in our lives who have been our supports and our champions. This day also calls us to take the time to acknowledge the strength that lies within the next generation of women, our girls.
I thank our parents for choosing an all girls’ school, for giving their daughters the gift of learning from and with other young women. I would also like to thank and acknowledge both the men and women in our girls’ lives, and in our community, who support Girls Grammar girls to be the exceptional young women they are.
Mrs Deanne Johnston