International Women’s Day (IWD) is a time of celebration across all Loreto schools. On and around the 8th of March, purple appears alongside the traditional Loreto blue on ribbons, badges, socks, balloons and capes, marking its connection with the history of an ongoing movement for equality, dignity and respect for women and girls. Our schools focused on IWD in a spirit of freedom and felicity, attending community breakfasts, listening to talks by inspiring speakers, honouring treasured past pupils, and celebrating through prayer, liturgy, and Super Girl Weeks.
The life and work of Mary Ward and the thousands who have come after her as religious Sisters and co-creators of her vision has focused on the education, empowerment, and spiritual flourishing of women and girls worldwide. On IWD, together with the United Nations and through our commitment to global development and human rights, the Mary Ward family here in Australia and South East Asia celebrates our progress through sharing our stories and re-committing to work still to be done.
On that note, we asked some of the student leaders of our Australian Schools to reflect on their understanding of the 2022 United Nations theme “gender equality today for a sustainable future tomorrow”. Our Year 12 student leaders shared insightful, wise and informed words, giving us a glimpse of the impact these young women leaders will soon make in our world. They are already those “women in time” of whom Mary Ward spoke, doing much!
To me, the theme of this year’s IWD, “gender equality for a sustainable future”, acknowledges and recognises the work of women and girls around the world, who are contributing to a more sustainable future. This sustainable future is seeing the change of climate of gender equality in jobs, sports, and everyday life. It is also seeing the change in what the so-called ‘ideal’ women’s role in society should be. It is breaking down the stereotypes put on women and creating an environment where there is gender equality, and an environment where women are supported. Women who are leaders, activists, and advocate for other women can accelerate the pace of change in gender equality and are those who will create a more sustainable future.
Erin Mungur, Deputy Head Girl | Loreto College Marryatville
The IWD UN Theme epitomises perfectly the idea that although women are experiencing inequality to this day, this does not stop us from contributing to movements and becoming leaders for the better of our world (and acting on) the top concerns of our society, like climate change. As women, we strive to make a positive difference for other women despite the circumstances, and on this day in particular, we celebrate how far we have come and recognise how far we have to go.
Georgina Tenny, Head Girl | Loreto College Marryatville
The IWD theme is not only about addressing the gender pay gap and acknowledging gender-based violence. We need to continue the conversation about the role of women in all realms so that future generations can benefit from the advantages of both men and women contributing to their full potentials. We are proud of being feminist and want to change the negative stereotype of this word through education. At the heart of feminism is equality; what is negative about that? We are fortunate to not only have more opportunities available to us, but freedoms to take advantage of them. Throughout this week, we aimed to raise awareness of the contributions of women around the world and celebrate our own individual strengths and potential to create change.
Abbey Donoghue & Jordan Aitchison, College Captains | Loreto Coorparoo
Environmentally, (the UN) theme is particularly relevant, as the climate crisis amplifies existing gender inequalities, leaving women and girls to experience the greatest impacts. Natural resources that women depend on are being rapidly depleted, leaving communities without food, water, and fuel. However, the solutions and progress toward a sustainable future would not exist without women; without female engineers, scientists, teachers, activists. For this reason, and many others, the inequalities faced by women must be addressed, for the good of our planet, and all who inhabit it.
…We are lucky to spend each day in an empowering environment of women. Loreto girls learn to be headstrong and confident, with the freedom to choose what type of women we want to be. Mary Ward, who defied what it meant to be a woman in the 16th century, teaches us this message. In our Loreto year of Freedom, today is also about recognising our privilege as women in a society where we can vote, receive education, work, and experience political freedom. Ensuring all women experience these same freedoms is the action we must take today to ensure a sustainable tomorrow.
Isabel Duggan, Captain of School | Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak
Author: Michelle McCarty, Director of Mission, Loreto Toorak