Last week, International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated at La Châtaigneraie campus. IWD has been observed since the early 1900s and March 8 was selected as a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men (www.un.org) and as an international school, and by extension, the parent community, it is important that we continue to work for progress in equality.
The IWD celebrations at La Châtaigneraie were brought to the school community by Year 8 student, Rebecca LeMoult, and a small team of parents. Please see Rebecca’s La Chat en Bref article “Educate Girls, Change the World – screening of ‘Girl Rising’ at La Chât” for more on her plans for the celebration. Our team’s objectives were to raise awareness about this important global campaign and to promote charitable giving to a female-empowering cause. With your help and support, we feel we have achieved our goals.
We would like to express our gratitude to all those who volunteered their time, donated baked goods, offered suggestions and support, and of course who contributed generously to the Girl Rising Impact Fund both at the breakfast and at the film screening. Together, approximately 1200 chf was raised for this charity. Please follow this link to discover more about The Girl Rising Impact Fund. https://www.girlrising.com/faq We also greatly appreciate the financial and other support from PTA Kermesse Grants, Novae, the PTA, the school administration, teachers, and Primary Student Council.
[If you were unable to attend the screening of Girl Rising on March 8, please check for its availability on your AppleTV or Netflix accounts]
What inspired you to organize IWD events at the school?
Minoo: I was disappointed to hear from students that last year International Women’s Day was not talked about at school even though it is an internationally recognized day and there is much chatter on social media and the news about it. What I love about our school’s program and philosophy is the focus on Peace Education; without gender equality I don’t think we can truly achieve peace. It’s important to see beyond our own privileges of the Western world and shine a light on injustice in all parts of the world.
Shelly: I wanted to celebrate IWD because I am inspired by the amazing things that I see women doing in our community and in the world to help girls become strong women. I was inspired by the documentary that my daughter used for her exhibition and I would like to get more involved with projects that help girls reach their full potential.
Line: I have worked in Africa and Asia and have seen how girls have fewer opportunities than boys in many countries. But it is also something everyone has to be aware of on a local level and on a personal level – how we interact with boys and girls every day.
Karen: I wanted to celebrate IWD because in my professional experience I have seen over and over again how women are not treated equal to men. As an engineer, I have very often been the only women in presence of only men and I can write a book about that alone. You can’t imagine the number of times my colleagues had children and people congratulated them if they were boys, but if they were girls they said it is better to have a boy (Yes, in Canada!).
I wanted to celebrate IWD because I have seen children orphaned because women in developing countries had no other options. Because there are so many places in the world where women just do not have a voice or a chance….a chance for education, for freedom, for health care, for choosing not to get married, for having choices.
What were some of your personal highlights from the International Women’s Day celebrations?
Shelly: The highlights for me were: the positivity and support that we received; the whole school wearing purple; the drawings and the writings that the students submitted.
Karen: I think the breakfast was a great success, as was the viewing of the movie.
Minoo: I was so inspired by Rebecca’s fearlessness and determination to raise awareness on the plight of girls in the developing world. She brought the documentary, Girl Rising, to the school, and organized speaking engagements in many classes at Secondary, as well as to the Year 6 classes. I also loved that once the Student Council at Primary School got involved, they took it on as their own. They took the initiative to research about the significance of the day, create posters, and even spoke to each class about why they were being encouraged to wear purple on March 8. And of course the art and writing submissions from the contest were fantastic! The children wrote some very personal stories and drew lovely portraits of truly inspiring women – mothers, grandmothers, teachers, athletes, activists and more.
Line: The amazing art contributions. I was impressed with the wide range of women who inspire the children. It was especially nice to have contributions from entire classes.
Gina: One highlight for me was to have men supporting us at the breakfast.
Why did you, as a male, want to get involved in these International Women’s Day events?
Pat: I feel that it is crucial that men are involved in striving for women’s equality for several reasons. First, the more total people that stand up and demand change, the better. Second, the presence of men specifically may help to reach some people who are resistant to change or do not see any problems. Third, it is, quite simply, the right thing to do.
World-renowned journalist and activist, Gloria Steinem, echoes these sentiments “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
On behalf of Rebecca LeMoult and the IWD team, we thank you for being a part of these celebrations and for being a part of this important conversation about equality.