On Tuesday 8 March 2022, students, staff and parents mobilised across each of Ecolint’s campuses to imagine and call for a more gender equal world, to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness against bias. “The road towards equality starts at school,” affirms Director General David Hawley. “Only by raising awareness about women’s rights and gender equality from the earliest age and ensuring women and girls have unrestricted access to education can the world come together to break the bias and empower women.”
Kicking off celebrations for International Women’s Day, La Châtaigneraie over 250 Year 5 and 6 students welcomed West Ham United Women’s coach Jenny Coady for a discussion on women in sports. Confidence, hope in diversity and inclusion, determination, courage and heart, imagination and hard work: one after the other, students listed the traits they feel are important in reaching one’s goals at school, at home, and later on in life. Year 5 and 6 also exchanged with Dagný Brynjarsdóttir, midfielder for West Ham United and the Iceland national team, who urged the over 30 girl footballers present in the audience to believe in themselves and work hard to fulfil their dreams.
“101 Ways to Fall in Love,” “Find out How to Build Muscle in Just 20 Days!”, “Keep calm and get baking!” Over at La Grande Boissière Secondary School, these catchy magazine article headings loomed large on the screen of one of the Year 11 Mentor classrooms. Exploring gender biases in media, healthcare, products and the workplace, students engaged in lively discussions and brainstormed on how stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination contribute to the inequalities women and girls face in many parts of the world. For Laura Italici, Head of Year 11, these conversations are crucial: “In order to combat stereotypes, it is essential that students recognise the gender bias that is everywhere, and that is perpetuated implicitly and explicitly through advertising, social media, product design, and service provision.”
At Campus des Nations, the call of the Student Council’s Anti-Discrimination Committee was answered and the campus donned red to mark International Women’s Day. From Primary to Secondary, from students to staff, many were those who bedecked themselves in crimson, scarlet and vermilion. “It is encouraging to see how many community members have responded to the students’ call,” says Secondary Principal Jamie Williams, “because it shows them that by mobilising on a personal level, they can effect change on a much larger scale as their combined voices will carry much further.”
Central to International Women’s Day celebrations was marking women’s achievements and successes. At La Châtaigneraie, Year 12 and 13 students joined a luncheon with leading experts from the fields of conservation, education, labour law and public health, including Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s Technical Lead for Covid-19. “For students who are currently making important choices that will impact the direction they take in higher education and in their future careers, meeting with these extraordinary women can inspire them and reveal paths that they may not have considered possible or desirable,” explains John Deighan, Coordinator of the Guest Speaker Series and organiser of the luncheon. “It is also important that our male students have and engage with female role models as it leads to greater mutual understanding between genders,” he continues.
As we journey towards our 100th anniversary in 2024, we do so with renewed commitment to tackling discrimination and injustice at school and beyond by educating students to be global citizens with the courage and capacity to create a just and joyful tomorrow together.