St Margaret's Anglican Girls School students celebrate 2022 International Women's Day

At St Margaret’s, we are focused on providing opportunities for our students to be continuously inspired by female changemakers.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is one such opportunity where the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women are celebrated, and the continual pursuit of gender equality is highlighted – a pursuit that today’s St Margaret’s students are a part of.

This year for International Women’s Day, the United Nations set out to recognise the contribution of women and girls who are leading the way to build a sustainable future for all.

It was only fitting, then, that the school’s International Women’s Day assembly guest speaker was Old Girl Dr Natalie Wright (’86), a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering, School of Architecture and Built Environment at Queensland University of Technology and a trailblazer in contributing to sustainable and climate-friendly design initiatives.

Through her work in education and research, Dr Wright supports the designers of the future to be responsible consumers and producers, shaping sustainable communities, and she has been fortunate to work with the Queensland Children’s Hospital to improve the health and wellbeing of parents and families in the paediatric intensive care environment.

Dr Wright spoke of the importance of an education for all girls and our collective responsibility to ensure gender equality around the world.

“We are lucky that we live in a country where women have the right to twelve years of free, safe and quality education. We are lucky that we live in a country where women, who make up 51% of the population, have reproductive rights and represent almost half of the Australian workforce.

“Yet, there is so much more that needs to be done across the world. And women and girls are very much part of the solution, including all of you,” she said.

Dr Wright shared statistics highlighting gender inequality within the Australian education sector, including disparity in pay and leadership positions for women.

She implored students to “treasure and make the most of your educational opportunity at St Margaret’s”, highlighting the fact that 130 million girls worldwide do not get the same opportunity to go to school.

Dr Wright also shared the story of Pakistani education activist and youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who has spent the best part of her life fighting to ensure that every girl can learn and lead.

“Malala is a role model who reminds us that each and every girl plays a part in raising the visibility of education and gender equality as fundamental elements of sustainable development initiatives,” Dr Wright said.

To conclude, Dr Wright set students a task: “I challenge you to think about how you might contribute to gender equality in education for a better world and write an inspiring letter to send to your future self.

“Today, let’s celebrate the progress we’ve made, even since I left St Margaret’s 35 years ago, and the contribution we will all make to the world in the next 35 years.”

Earlier in the day, Year 10 students Matilda Boone and Stephanie Gerber attended the QRC/WIMARQ International Women’s Day Breakfast at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The event celebrates the outstanding contribution by women and men across the resources sector towards making the industry more diverse and inclusive.

The keynote speaker at the event was Liz Broderick, Australia’s longest serving Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

Stephanie found the event inspiring: "Liz Broderick showed us the importance of taking accountability and that change is always possible. She used one phrase that really resonated with me "just because something is sticky doesn't mean it is stuck". She explained that just because the gender inequalities are high in society and hard to change, that doesn't mean that they are impossible to change and if all of us work hard enough together it can become unstuck.

"I plan to #breakthebias by not letting myself believe that I cannot work in an industry because I am female. Just because an industry is male dominated doesn't mean that women shouldn't work in that industry or be able to make a difference."

Matilda found Liz’s message regarding sexism quite eye-opening: “She said just because you have not heard of misogyny, sexism or exclusion in the workplace doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. This made me realise just how prevalent sexism can be in some workplaces, particularly in the resources industry. I plan to ensure I learn more about this workplace issue and what I can do to stop it in the future.”

St Margaret’s is proud to inspire the next generation of female changemakers, not just on International Women’s Day but every day, empowering students to contribute to the global effort to advance gender equality.