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‘Generation Equality’: International Women’s Day Event for ACT Students

13 Mar 2020

Keynote Speakers
Keynote Speakers (left to right): Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, Merrin Starr and Kemiso Matlho

On Friday the 6th of March, school students from around the ACT attended an International Women’s Day event hosted by the ACT Education Directorate. The event grouped mainly female students together to collaborate and share ideas on leading inspirational change.

‘Generation Equality’ was the theme of the day as students heard from inspiring keynote speakers on how they could pave the way for future generations.

“We young women are on the forefront of calling for global change”, said Ashleigh Streeter-Jones, 2018 ACT Woman of the Year, as she spoke on the global climate change movement being led by young people.

Additional keynote speakers Kemiso Matlho and Merrin Starr joined Ashleigh on a panel, where the three young women answered student’s questions on careers in advocacy, advice on how to deal with discrimination and self-doubt, and personal stories from the speakers about their journey as feminists. Minister Yvette Berry also spoke to the students.

Over the course of the day, students participated in one of two workshops being held.

ACT Health hosted a design thinking workshop, which encouraged students to think about how they could foster equality in their schools through inclusive words and actions. They collaborated with different schools by pitching ideas and giving and receiving feedback and were encouraged to engage in practical learning.

Students from Belconnen High School participating in ACT Health’s Design Thinking Workshop
Students from Belconnen High School participating in ACT Health’s Design Thinking Workshop

“We had a great time, kids and adults alike. The students did a brilliant job with the collaboration and the respectful relationships they established not only within their own schools but across schools, and we’re proud of what they achieved,” said workshop presenter Tracy Gallagher spoke of the student’s participation in the workshop.

Workshop participant Heli, from Melba Copeland School, appreciated the opportunity to think more in-depth on issues at her school.

“Talking and collaborating with everyone you start to realise all the things we treat as ‘normal’ at school. You realise that some things are treated as ‘normal’ when that shouldn’t be the case”.

The 50/50 by 2030 Foundation led another workshop centred around story telling. Participants in the workshop viewed a range of content featuring inspirational women and learnt about different communication methods to assist them to tell powerful, moving stories.

Workshop presenter and 50/50 Foundation founder Virginia Haussegger AM said she was impressed by the student’s application to the workshop.

“My colleagues Pia Rowe and Julie Hare from the University of Canberra, and myself were just stunned. We really weren’t sure if the material was going to be too complex for [the students]. We needn’t have been worried at all, they got it like that! They understood the issue, they understood what was being asked of them and the result was just really fantastic.”

The 50/50 by 2030 Foundation is running a competition stemming from the workshop, open to any student to participate. Details can be found at a website created for students here External Link.

The day concluded with the two workshop groups coming together to present their ideas to each other and the school faculty who attended. This was a powerful demonstration of what young minds can achieve when given the stimulus ‘Generation Equality’.