Today SPJ marked International Women’s Day, which took place last Friday 8 March. We marked it a week later because the Lower Third and a significant number of staff were on a residential trip last week. A day as important as this deserves to be recognised by all members of our school community.
To mark the occasion, we held a panel discussion in the school hall. Each panel member spoke for around five minutes about their experiences, reflections on IWD and their thoughts on this year’s theme #BalanceForBetter. This was followed by audience questions, comments and discussion. Our panel members included:
Rosy Cave is the Head of the Gender Equality Unit and the Head of the Office of the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, leading work on girls’ education, Women, Peace & Security, Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, and LGBT rights. She was previously the Stabilisation Unit’s Head of Conflict and Stabilisation Team and the Unit’s Gender & Conflict Adviser. Rosy has worked on conflict prevention, peacebuilding, security and justice for over 15 years for Non-Governmental Organisations and the United Nations in a number of conflict-affected regions.
Geeta Guru-Murthy is a distinguished British television journalist and actress. In January 1998 Geeta covered the breaking of the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal from Champaign, Illinois for 5 News and by 2002, she was hosting Asia Today, with regular work for BBC World, BBC News 24, and BBC Breakfast. By 2005 Geeta was presenting the news on BBC Radio 4, the UK’s flagship intelligent speech radio service. In 2017 Geeta was one of several female BBC employees campaigning against the gender pay gap.
Stephanie Barwise QC
Stephanie was amongst the first of the 1988 call to take silk, and has been consistently recognised as a leader in her field. She was featured in The Lawyer’s ‘Hot 100’ list for 2019, a superb achievement. Stephanie’s expertise lies in civil engineering and construction disputes. She appears as an advocate in the highest courts in the land as well as in international arbitrations. She is currently representing a group of core participants (including survivors, bereaved relatives and former residents of Grenfell Tower) represented by five firms of solicitors in The Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.
Moni is a Pakistani writer based in London. She grew up in Pakistan during the time of General Zia ul-Haq’s military coup. Moni left Pakistan at 16 to study at a boarding school in England, later attending Cambridge University where she studied anthropology and archaeology. Afterwards she returned to Pakistan, where she founded the country's first nature magazine. After General Zia's death she moved more decisively into the public sphere, speaking out in favour of women’s equality and working for the independent Friday Times, where she rose to the ranks of features editor. Moni is a respected author. Her books include ‘The End of Innocence’, ‘Duty Free’, and ‘The Diary of a Social Butterfly’. Her writing has also appeared in The Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Prospect and The Nation, amongst other publications.
It was an inspiring occasion in which our thinking, behaviour and values were challenged and refined. Our pupils asked some excellent questions, including:
How has being a woman impact your career in your chosen field of work?
How can we challenge bias and sexism?
How do we provide equality of opportunity?
Is there a place for single-sex education?
What was ‘the pink book called?’ – a reference to Moni’s book, whose publisher decided to market it in pink to appeal to a particular audience. Great to know that Coletines are willing to look past these details.
Our pupils were asked to reconsider their thinking and social norms to ensure that they encourage a more equal and fairer society which works in everyone’s best interests. Discussions will continue in school to further develop the themes raised.
Huge thanks to Alina Menocal for her help and support in bringing together our panel members.
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