Roedean’s Festival Celebrating Women

Roedean’s Festival Celebrating Women

1 May 2018

This wonderful event, which marked International Women’s Day and 100 Years of Votes for Women, brought 13 speakers to Roedean. All the speakers were successful women, including three Old Roedeanians, and it was brilliant that all of the students had options during the day to listen to speakers whose talks matched their interests. We heard from:

Dame Mary Archer – a Chemist who is the Chair of Trustees for the National Science Museum, with a long-standing interest in solar photoconversion
Holly Bourne – a children’s writer, well known for Am I Normal Yet? And the Spinster Club series; she also has a strong interest in feminism
Anabela Chan OR – a London-based award-winning jewellery designer – this year, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Rita Ora, and Salma Hayek have all worn her statement pieces on the red carpet
Rose Hudson-Wilkin – Chaplain to the Queen and to the Speaker of the House of Commons, and one of the first cohort of women to become bishops in the Church of England
Jasleen Kandhari OR – is an art and textiles historian, specialising in Sikh art and South Asian material culture, who teaches courses at Oxford University
Rebecca Long OR – the founder of Boudica Films, a female-centric film company, which has at least 50% women in all roles as part of the film-making process
Professor Mary Lovegrove OBE – a diagnostic radiographer, who is Emeritus Professor of Education and Development for Allied Health Professionals
Virginia McKenna OBE – a film and theatre actress, and animal rights’ activist and wildlife campaigner, who founded the Born Free Foundation
Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu – a lawyer and women’s rights’ activist, who is also the co-founder of the Women’s March London
Sarah Begum – an anthropologist, journalist, explorer and documentary filmmaker
Professor Kate O’Riordan – Professor of Digital Culture at the University of Sussex, with a focus on how gender and sexuality are presented in digital media
Gabrielle Rowles – a proponent of the BoingBoing Theory, which focuses on the power of resilience and a positive mind-set
Captain Anna Sandell – a commercial airline pilot from Sweden, who flies the 787 Dreamliner, the largest airliner in the world, and trains other pilots

We are delighted that the day was a great success, and Emily T (Yr13) really enjoyed the experience:

‘It was inspiring to see so many women thriving in every field and speaking so passionately about it. From STEM to Indian textiles, there was something for everyone and I even found myself engaging with subjects I knew nothing about prior to the talk. Virginia McKenna spoke about the importance of individual power to make a difference, especially in her personal experiences which saved many orphaned and injured animals. Tash, Martha, and I were so engaged that we even asked her many more questions about the Born Free story over tea and cake afterwards. We then heard from Dame Mary Archer who, having entered a male dominated subject gave me advice that I will personally implement as I also go on to a degree in Chemistry. I then went to a talk that was completely different and yet probably my favourite of the day, despite having no experience in it. I went into Jasleen Kandhari’s talk about Indian Textiles with no preconceptions, but I came out wanting to be as passionate about my own research as she was about hers. It was truly impressive to see so many powerful women enjoying their subjects and disregarding all stereotypes in order to achieve their goals, despite the challenges our gender may still face.’

In addition to attending up to five talks during the day, every student in the School filled in an IWD card, and we created a display in the Fireplace, to share personal inspirations, whether they be family members or famous ground-breaking women!

After lunch, those in Years 11-13 convened in the Quad to form the letters of #BeBold to affirm their conviction to be strong women in the future, and, despite the high winds in such a beautiful spring day, a drone captured some fantastic images of this.

The girls in Years 7-10 presented to their peers about women they felt were inspirational, and the best in each tutor-group won an early Easter egg!

It was a brilliant day, which really was exciting, enlightening, and empowering.

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