International Women’s Day 2023John Blois
Each year, International Women’s Day comes around and there is a flurry of events and social media buzz – it can sometimes be difficult to tell what’s genuine. Even the ‘official’ celebration has left people confused.
The day has its origins with the United Nations, “born out of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and across Europe”. Since then, the day has grown to be well-known all over the world, becoming “a central point for action, to build support for women’s rights and their full participation in the economy, politics, community and in everyday life”.
What you may not realise is that there are multiple themes for International Women’s Day: one set by the corporate entity for IWD – embrace equity – and another set by the UN Women Australia – ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’, which is inspired by the UN’s official theme, ‘DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality’.
It’s likely you’ll see different organisations discussing different themes but regardless of which is focused on, they each open up important conversations surrounding gender equality today and into the future.
It is helpful, however, to note the tangible goals the UN has, which are now linked with the official marking of International Women’s Day.
Sustainable Development Goal #5 (SDG 5) calls upon states (including Australia) to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, and the overarching goal has many ‘smaller’ goals within. We recommend taking some time to read through these goals to familiarise yourself: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/gender-equality/
“Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. There has been progress over the last decades, but the world is not on track to achieve gender equality by 2030.” (UN)
At the Senior School assembly, students heard from Mrs Liz Murphy as she shared her own experiences as a woman in sport and advocated for the equality of women on the local and global sporting stage.
“Women are just as incredible at sport as men – let’s not compare (or forget) but celebrate their immense talent and successes and together let’s raise the profile of women in sport!”
Mrs Murphy shared the many examples of female athletes being overlooked for their male counterparts, particularly on the internet, where searches for ‘Who has scored the most goals in international football?’ produce a top response of ‘Christiano Ronaldo’, when the reality is that Christine Sinclair holds that title.
The Middle School assembly also explored this idea, with students watching multiple videos highlighting the disparities between men and women.
Mrs Courtenay spoke to students, encouraging them to challenge their own assumptions. Sharing anonymous stories about the prior careers and accomplishments of Trinity staff members, she asked students to guess whether the subject of each story was a man or a woman, with the answers often surprising the students.
“If you assume what women can do and what men can do, you might close yourself off to making some really good connections and having some really great conversations,” she reminded students.
“Be open-minded, today and every day.”
Mrs Nero shared her own experiences as a young teacher coming to an all-boys school where she found she was treated differently because of her gender.
“27 years have passed now and we’ve definitely progressed in the right direction, but today is an opportunity to trigger a recalibration in the way that we think about things,” she said.
“Being human is what makes us deserving of respect, not gender.”
In the Preparatory School, students in each class read stories with strong female characters at the centre. Students across the Prep School took time to learn about trailblazing women like Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, Yayoi Kusama, Sam Kerr and Maria Montessori.
Years 3 – 6 also watched a video to explore and spark discussion around the history of women’s rights in Australia, the move to equality and how stereotypes impact women. Years 5 – 6 took some time to dive into a Behind the News segment on sports organisations working to reduce the gender pay gap.
The IWD celebrations at Prep allowed students to also tie in their learning with the IB goal of promoting social justice and developing students to take an active role in society.
Today, and every day, we celebrate and acknowledge the women in our community who put in hard work to educate students each day, implement programmes that promote respectful relationships, and raise their sons to be good men who make a difference in the world.