International Women’s Day 2020

To mark International Women’s Day 2020, Ardingly College enjoyed a whole week of events that allowed members of the College community to engage with issues that relate to the contemporary women’s movement and encouraged students to challenge their preconceptions and stereotypes.

Central to the week’s events was a Film Festival that saw the College welcome a Hollywood actor to discuss her experiences as an advocate for the #metoo movement. The College also hosted screenings of Kathryn Bigelow’s film Hurt Locker, introduced by the film maker Isis Thompson, as well as Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman, introduced by the actor Gabby Wong who addressed issues around the male gaze and female stereotyping in the creative industries.

The atmosphere at school was one of unity and advocacy, with students of all genders celebrating leading women across a range of fields and advocating around issues of global gender inequality. Collections were made for ‘Bloody Good Period’, a charity that works closely with some of the most vulnerable women in the UK, including victims of domestic abuse and asylum seekers, to ensure that they have access to free period products. Students donated over four hundred packets of sanitary towels.

Multiple talks and discussion panels were held. A panel of female Old Ardinians who work in industries which still see pronounced gender gaps discussed their careers and the changing role of gender in the workplace. We were delighted to welcome the academic Dr Geraldine Horan to host a discussion over the use of language and the concept of banter in the gender debate.

The College also welcomed pupils from fourteen local primary schools to take part in a series of workshops with leading athletes including Sally Gunnell OBE, Karen Pickering MBE and Tamsin Greenway. Sally Gunnell OBE said: “It was thoroughly enjoyable spending the morning at Ardingly College, training with the school’s sportswomen and then being part of their panel discussions.  One of the issues young women face is the importance of confidence. Girls should believe they can succeed in sport – or in anything they set their minds to. Ardingly College has some great facilities to offer these sportswomen, so they have the very best start on their way to succeeding in whatever field they choose.”

Our final event of the week saw Nusrat Ghani, Conservative MP for Wealden, address the College. Nusrat was the first female Muslim MP to address the House of Commons from the dispatch box; not only did she share with us her experiences in Parliament but also her work in relation to the development of female education in Afghanistan.

Georgina Stafford, Deputy Head Academic and Head of Sixth Form reflected:

“It is during our childhoods and adolescence that our ideas are formed, including our ideas around what we can do, and what others should do. The aim of the events last week was to promote the idea that gender should not be a barrier to either.”