14 March 2019
On the day, girls arriving at school were asked to write a wish for women to attach to “Wishing Trees” in the Gateway Foyer, while in the Atrium girls were doing the #BalanceForBetter pose in the selfie booth and writing their pledges for the day. In both locations, our art installations used female clothing to highlight gender inequality and make statements about our goals for women.
We used a Mufti Day, at which we were all encouraged to wear something purple, to ask pupils and staff to bring in a pack of sanitary pads or a donation for the charity Bloody Good Period. We will be giving more than 180 packs of pads and pantyliners, along with over £700, to aid them in their work providing period supplies to food banks, refugees and asylum seekers.
New Zealander Alicia Saila, prop forward for Harlequin Ladies, was in Upper Four lessons teaching the girls the haka. The traditional Maori dance has been described as “involving large amounts of shouting, as well as the use of the arms and legs to intimidate the opponent”, fitting in with the mood to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The highlight of the day was at lunchtime, when a panel of five exceptional women from very different walks of life talked to the girls about their experiences of being a woman in the workplace and the obstacles they have had to overcome to get there. Panellists included Kay Hallsworth, Commander, Royal Navy, Alicia Saili, from Harlequins Ladies’ rugby team, Michelle Elman, a body confidence coach, Preeti Virdee, entrepreneur and rugby journalist, and Polly Highton, actor and activist. They shared their life experiences with an attentive audience of pupils and staff before taking questions from the floor. Two of the most important lessons learnt from the panelists were “be inclusive and authentic and true to yourself” and “don’t care what people think of you; just be yourself and be confident in that.”