10 March 2017
From the Principal
On Wednesday I addressed students on the importance of being feminists, not the slogan shouting, aggressive, man-hating minority of old, but rather those committed to the true meaning of the word. That is: the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. I have tasked our girls to be strong, to always question and to stand up to those who may try to bring them down due to lack of knowledge or understanding. I have tasked our girls to ensure that they do not accept sexist comments or put downs and that they educate their brothers and friends in the true meaning of the word. They can do this by encouraging them to actively support equality in all spheres; education, employment and leadership, to name only a few.
After my address, Anthea Moodie totally outshone me in her presentation to the girls. I have shared it below:
It has been my honour to be asked to speak to you all today, so without any further ado, I’ll get going.
So how many of you have brothers? How many of you have an older brother specifically? I know, I know today is about empowering women, but this is where I’ll begin. I personally have two older brothers, not just a little bit older than me, but quite a few years. They have always expected me to keep up with them and there was no slowing down for me as a little girl. I was treated as one of them, watching footy games as well as trying to play along myself. Of course, they were always stronger, always better and faster too. However, being my usual competitive self, I would strive to be as great as they were in every aspect of life. But now as I’ve grown older I’ve had a change of perspective. Why should I be the one trying to be like them? Why can’t I be the one they’re constantly striving to be stronger than, better than and faster than? Why can’t I be bold?
This has been a thought I’ve kept in the back of my mind throughout my sporting career. My brothers were always interested in my achievements, constantly messaging poor Mum as I completed each jump. Their interest in what I was doing and achieving was, and still is, motivating in itself. In simple terms I just wanted to “show them up”, and in some ways, I feel as if I have. Now that I have two nephews and another on the way, I want to aim to be someone they can look up to, regardless of my gender. I want them growing up believing that both men and women can be role models, that gender creates no barrier no matter the circumstance. This is why I choose to be bold.
As you all already know, this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Be Bold for Change. But what does the term bold specifically mean? “Being bold” can be defined as a person who shows a willingness to take risks, being confident and courageous in their actions. I know for myself and possibly for many of you, I hear the term “risk” and think, skydiving, bungee jumping or doing a backflip. But for us as women, taking a risk can be something as simple as voicing our opinions, standing up for ourselves and what we believe in, having the confidence to express the person we truly are in any and every way possible. Because in the end, who is the person you spend every single second with? The answer is simple, ourselves. The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet. There is no reason why we, shouldn’t be bold.
The terms ‘bold’ and ‘change’ fit hand in hand. For women, being bold leads to something more, it leads to change within ourselves, our actions and effectively, the world around us. As Leon Brown once said, “for every positive change you make in your life, something else also changes for the better – it creates a chain reaction.” And for this reason, I cannot stress how important it is that we, as an all-girls school, empower each other. What a wonderful opportunity we have been given as young women to have the chance to inspire one another for the whole 36 weeks of the school year. There will never be another opportunity like it. So why should we wait? There is nothing to lose yet so much to gain, but we sit back in fear of being bold. We all need to be bold, not only bold but bold for change.
With a frame of mind like this, all of your dreams and aspirations will fall into place. Never doubt that there will be hardships, there will be negativity and people around you who tell you, you can’t. For myself with a sporting background, I’ve experienced these lows time and time again. Injuries are common, training sessions are gruelling, competitions very rarely meet with your self-expectations, and I ask myself why do I continue? It is the drive to be bold, the drive to have the courage to sacrifice and take risks. And also because I want to continue to show my brothers up. Each and every one of you sitting before me today can relate to me, you all have your very own reasons to continue your drive and to empower one another. We are women, and we will celebrate International Women’s Day. But why limit ourselves to be inspired for a short one day of the year? There are no limits; together - you, and you and you and you - all of us, all of the women in the world can Be Bold for Change.
Mrs Kim Cohen