Centred on this year’s IWD theme ‘Balance for better’, the event included a breakfast for students and the significant women in their lives and an assembly where students were addressed by four diverse guest speakers.
Girls can absolutely do anything – in sport, in the classroom, there’s no place that women can’t be
NSW Waratahs player Sera Naiqama, Local Member for Summer Hill Jo Haylen, co-founder of non-profit The Sun Crew Siargao Hannah Bowyer and President of the Bethlehem College Ex-Students’ Association Gay McKinley discussed how far women have come and the battles still to be won.
“We are one of the oldest all-girls catholic schools in the inner west, and many of our young women have become trailblazers of all sorts of careers,” said Bethlehem Principal Paula Bounds.
“We always tell our girls that girls can do anything, so what better way to celebrate that than on International Women’s Day.”
Ms Haylen spoke to students about her journey into politics, including her time working for Australia’s first Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and the barriers women still face in parliament.
Ms Naiqama, who invited students to be ‘women in the arena’ in a paraphrase of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech, was a student favourite. But the crowd’s only standing ovation was for SRC College President Esther Nwosu, who spoke about two key female role models – her ESL teacher at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School Belfied, and her mother.
“In 20 years I would hope that women would no longer have to fight and struggle to achieve equality,” said Esther. “That each man and woman would be provided with the same opportunities, the same skills and education, and the same level of ability to be able to advance in their career and personal life.”
Women speak: ‘Why is International Women’s Day important?’
“Women have come a long way, and I think its lovely, at least once a year if not more to celebrate all of our accomplishments, and how far we’ve yet to go” – Michele O’Mara, mum to Year 10 student Lacey-Michele
“It’s a reminder that girls can absolutely do anything – in sport, in the classroom, there’s no place that women can’t be. The history books tell us that contact sports, which is what I play – rugby union, are a man’s game. But it’s changed, it’s shifting. ” – Sera Naiqama, NSW Waratahs player
“I think it’s really fantastic that women are being celebrated, especially because in the past women weren’t seen as equal to men. I think its a really fantastic thing that we’re celebrating being women and being pushed to do the best we can” – Gabriella Iliasiewicz, Year 12 student
“I think International Women’s Day is a great time to celebrate all that’s wonderful, but also to reflect on how far we still need to go. Hopefully I’ve encouraged the students to stick their hand up when it comes to leadership opportunities, because that’s a big part of the ethic here at Bethlehem” – Jo Haylen, Local Member for Summer Hill