Roedean was buzzing on International Women's Day after its festival celebrating inspiring women.
To mark International Women’s Day fifteen successful women from a variety of fields came to Roedean to share their experiences with the girls and staff. The normal school timetable was collapsed for the day, and the girls enjoyed hearing from diverse speakers, including Helen Richardson-Walsh (the School’s Sports Ambassador) who won Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, Rashidat Hassan who is Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, and the Queen’s Chaplain, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who was at the forefront of the struggle to ordain women.
There were also a number of personal connections between the speakers and Roedean: Tanya Barron is CEO of PlanUK, the charity through which the School sponsors 10 girls around the world; there were also four ORs, Elspeth Beard, who was the first British woman to motorcycle around the world, Caitlin Boyland, an elite rower, the author Adèle Geras, and the Human Rights’ campaigner, Zerbanoo Gifford; as well as two local artists, the animation director Claire Underwood, who created Boj, and Kellie Miller. The remaining four speakers were Mais Tattan, a Doctor who had to flee her native Syria, Professor Brooke Rogers from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, whose specialism is how society responds to terror threats, Oriana Pound, who has a passion for encouraging girls to connect with coding, and Dr Suzie Imber, who is Associate Professor of Planetary Science at Leicester University and hopes one day to be an astronaut.
Both the speakers and the girls enjoyed the day hugely. Mr Blond, the Headmaster, feels strongly that empowering messages need to be reinforced with the girls at every opportunity: ‘We wanted to mark International Women’s Day by showing our pupils exactly what is achievable in the world today. I like to think that the Lawrence sisters, who founded the school, would be delighted to see today’s young girls hearing about all the amazing achievements of the speakers. The purpose of the day was also to challenge and inspire the pupils to find their academic and wider passions, and voice their own opinions and aspirations.’
The world is changing, and women have more opportunities than ever before. Yet, more than 62 million girls worldwide still do not receive an education because of their gender. We are incredibly fortunate at Roedean to enjoy an outstanding education, so it is our responsibility to grab whatever opportunities we have with both hands. It was wonderful to be able to share such a brilliant day with the students from Blatchington Mill, Longhill, and Peacehaven Community School who have been attending the Roedean Academy, along with some students from Roedean Moira House.