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International Women’s Day

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021 #choosetochallenge

Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated globally to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to:

  • celebrate women’s achievements
  • raise awareness about women’s equality
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities

Due to the Adelaide Cup Public Holiday being held on Monday 8 March, the St Michael’s community chose to celebrate today, Friday 5 March, with a range of activities to celebrate the accomplishments of women, and to also highlight the challenges that are still faced by women across the world.

A committee of Year 12 College Leaders embraced the opportunity to organise events for all students today, including a booklet titled ‘Women of the St Michael’s Community’, which pays homage to all the females within our community and was distributed to students across the College either in hard copy or via email. A link to the booklet can be found here. Staff were encouraged to wear a touch of purple, the colour associated with this important occasion. Some students and staff attended the International Women’s Day Virtual Breakfast, hosted by the Hon Senator Penny Wong, with guests such as Natasha Stott Despoja. The breakfast was informative and entertaining with the focus on ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world’. Whilst it was an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, there was also a focus on the struggles still faced by women around the globe.

At recess, students and staff came together to listen to music by female artists, hand out purple hair ribbons and badges, and distribute the booklets to students. At lunch we met in the LEC Auditorium to listen to the stories of members of the St Michael’s community who were prepared to share their personal reflections. Rana Hussein, Year 11 student, spoke of her experiences as a young Muslim woman who escaped persecution in her homeland of Eretria, eventually coming to Australia as a refugee. Excerpts of Rana’s speech can be found below. Samuel Hornibrook, College Vice-Captain, spoke of the significant roles women have played in his life and his gratitude in particular for the wisdom and insight of his mother. Ms Amanda Price, Deputy Principal of Staff and Strategy, outlined the importance of women supporting one another in their career and in professional development. Ms Price also focused on the importance of male role models who support the pursuit of success, recognising potential through merit-based appointments.

At St Michael’s we feel proud to have an inclusive community where each individual is known, valued and cared for. We hope that all of the students, girls and boys alike, can feel part of this thriving community, ready to embrace the many opportunities afforded to all.

Mrs Ady Webb, Assistant Year 12 Director

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

An excerpt from the speech delivered by Rana Hussein (11PC-06)

It seemed like any ordinary day when I woke up on the 9 January 2021; I was on the bus heading to work. As I looked out the window a man sitting towards the front of the bus started shouting out of nowhere. ‘You don’t deserve to be here. You are a terrorist. Australia doesn’t want you here’. I didn’t know who he was talking about and kept looking out the window. The bus was full and as we pulled up at another stop a lady got on. The seat next to me was the only empty one and as she sat down next to me the man shouted again…. ‘She is a terrorist. Don’t sit there. It’s for your own benefit. She is going to bomb you…you don’t know what she is hiding’. It was at that moment to my shock that I realised he was talking about me.

After leaving my homeland of Eritrea, I arrived in Australia when I was 10 years old. As I settled into my new life in and was invited to birthday parties and other celebrations, I quickly learned the extreme beauty associated with wrapping. Did you know that the most beautiful things are wrapped? I had never thought about it until I came to Australia from Eritrea and I saw all the Christmas hype Think about it, gifts were never given to others wrapped in newspaper, they are always beautifully presented with bows and ribbons and brightly coloured wrapping. And that’s how I think of my headscarf, not as a sign to people like the man on the bus that I’m a terrorist, but a beautiful wrapping for the gift of who I am as a person.

And so, I’ve started my own organisation, called Wrap It which aims to remove the stigma associated with head wraps in Western cultures so that we can all see our similarities rather than our differences, because this is what creates a greater humanity.

The man on the bus saw only my head scarf…he didn’t see the beautiful gift that lay under the wrapping. I have come to realise that I must become the difference. And I am going to tell you why! The wrapping of gifts is the most exquisite example of the feminine. Take Grace Kelly for example, or Audrey Hepburn, Queen Elizabeth, Marilyn Monroe, Rihanna and Mary the Mother of Jesus. They all wore a head scarf in their lifetimes.

Shockingly the ABC has reported on a major study of Islamophobia from Charles Sturt University which found that women wearing head coverings are the most at risk of abuse. In fact, nearly 72% of abuse victims were all wearing a head scarf or hijab at the time of their attack (ABC news). You are probably thinking that was in America or United Kingdom but no it was right here, it was right now, and it was on your door step. Here in Australia.

I’m sure the man on the bus, the people in the supermarkets and the students in our schools all love to receive beautifully wrapped birthday and Christmas presents, so let’s work together to educate them to see women’s head scarves as a sign of beauty rather than threat. Hopefully we can look forward to the day when all Australians see Muslim women as women not terrorists.

And remember, just as the sun doesn’t lose its beauty when its covered by clouds, our beauty doesn’t fade when we are wrapped with a head scarf.

Because at the end of the day, we’re just like you. And aren’t all women beautiful?

International Women's Day 2021 Booklet