The 2021 theme for International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge. The global theme for International Women’s Day in 2021 is ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’. Ideas such as the impact of COVID-19 on women and girls, the varied experiences of this time and the fundamental need to increase women’s access to leadership roles, are at the base of the message this year.
Do days like this challenge us to think differently? I hope International Women’s Day does focus men and women on gender inequality. I hope our students consider some of the life choices they will make, the role gender stereotyping limits thinking and how young people can be advocates for equality. At NGS, we see men and women on our staff working well together and boys and girls in our student population respectfully navigating everyday situations. We are perfectly poised to continue to make a difference.
The highly charged and emotive responses to a range of current confronting issues in our own country gives us all opportunities for discussion and growth. I’m sure many have been reading and reflecting on how our politicians in Canberra are managing the claims of sexual misconduct against politicians and staff members. The petition started by Chanel Contos about the teaching of consent has become ‘viral’ as more young women from all school sectors and regions add their names to the petition and now website.
How do boys and girls understand relationships when they are bombarded by media stories, see sexualised material at an early age and have access to images and ideas way before their parents’ generation? I never want to see that we have reduced young men to the stereotype of ‘predator’ and young women to that of ‘victim’. These are complex and multifaceted topics and finding the answers – are a responsibility of us all. Discussions at NGS are continuing as they are in schools across our State. We are considering if we can do more and we review our programs under a lens of constant improvement.
We should be grateful for days like International Women’s Day and young women like Chanel Contos who speak out. Supporting the next generation to make good choices and to think respectfully is a task for us all.
Head of School