The theme of this year’s International Women’s day was ‘Break the Bias’ and calls for people to imagine a gender-equal world that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. It is hoped this will produce a world where difference is valued and celebrated.
As a school, we wanted to celebrate women with connections to the school community. We invited former students and staff to take part in an assembly to reflect on the challenges faced by women today. It was our pleasure to interview the BBC presenter, Nazia Mogra, Dame Sue Ion and Professor Suzanne Ost, who all attended Penwortham Girls in their formative years.
They shared their insights into what had driven them to achieve success and highlighted the importance of our school’s core values; resilience and ambition. Integrity, being ethical, and the value of a positive mindset was also highlighted.
As part of our 2021 celebrations for International Women’s Day, we were delighted to have the opportunity to interview our local MP for South Ribble, Katherine Fletcher. All of Key Stage 3 had the opportunity to join a zoom call on Friday morning and listen to Katherine talk about her experience as a woman in politics and engage with an excellent question and answer session led by our Deputy Head Girl, Tegan.
Katherine Fletcher was elected to parliament in the 2019 general election. She explained in the interview that she hadn’t always had a passion for politics, but felt compelled to get involved as she felt that we need more women, and specifically northern women in parliament. She spoke about her wish to hear “different voices in the corridors of power”.
Katherine was interviewed on a range of topics, with thoughtful questions posed to her by our Deputy Head Girl and Year 10 students in our Respect Council, as well as questions asked by KS3 classes who watched the interview. It was impressive to see the range of thoughtful topics broached by our students, looking at important issues such as the current pandemic, the debate over free school meal provision and the challenges that women face in politics.
When asked what advice she would give to anyone looking to pursue a career in a traditionally male dominated field, Katherine spoke about how unfortunately women may encounter people who do doubt their capabilities due to their gender. She advised to, “get them to state their ‘you can’t do it’ opinion as loudly as possible, in front of as many people as possible… and then prove them wrong.” She said this was important, not only as it is very satisfying to prove them wrong, but also as it helps to, “set things up for the next generation.” Katherine encouraged our girls to pursue their own careers in politics; noting that there is still a lack of northern women in parliament. She said that, “active participation in the political process is a ‘must’ for me.”
We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to hear from a local, powerful woman this International Women’s Day. When asked what the first thing she planned on doing once the lockdown restrictions are lifted, Katherine replied, (perhaps with a little tongue in cheek) that she would love to come and visit our school in person! We would be absolutely thrilled to be able to hear more about Katherine’s experiences and to hear more of her words of wisdom in the future.
Mrs Hall and Miss Starkie
Students and staff have nominated the following inspirational women for International Women’s Day 2020.
Students will be voting for their favourite.