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Education as the foundation of change

Count Her In. Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.

As Australia celebrates International Women’s Day, education remains the foundation of change in our society and the pathway for students to expand their horizons, writes Jacinda Euler Welsh, Principal, Brisbane Girls Grammar School

Mar 08, 2024, updated Mar 08, 2024

Educators show young people what is possible, to reach for the future with confidence—expanding their horizons and outlook on life.

We inspire them to aim high, to be uncompromising in their expectations for a worthy life and the creation of a more just world.

How do we, then, tell girls and young women they will face barriers and roadblocks, glass ceilings and underlying prejudices? They may not. And with their optimistic youthfulness they won’t believe you anyway.

Focal points such as International Women’s Day are important opportunities to have the debate. They can prompt frustration, disagreement, despondence and (sometimes appropriate) anger at a lack of progress.

Fair enough. And yet, there has never been a better time to be a woman. After all, Australian women are among the best educated in the OECD, comprise nearly half our workforce, and their representation in leadership increases, year on year.

They unquestionably have the skills and capability to attain economic equality, and are we not already counting her in, investing in women to accelerate progress?

Education is foundational to real and enduring change. A good education provides not only the facts and realities, but also inspires a commitment to ideals and develops the confidence to see—and act on—possibilities.

Teachers invest in people every day, and have such a direct and potent opportunity to accelerate progress and transform society. They teach the skills that support students to gain economic and personal freedom, and empower them to contribute, to stand up, to make a difference where they can.

Our society places, unfairly, a burden of weight and worry on the shoulders of our young people, generally, and on our girls and young women in particular. It is such an important responsibility for schools to develop in our students an unshakeable, deep hope for the kind of nation, and the kind of world, that could be—and that they can help create.

For genuine economic equality requires—in addition to significant short- and long-term reform to address existing barriers—collective action.

As Brisbane Girls Grammar School approaches 150 years, we recognise how much we have benefitted from the pioneers who persevered to ensure that girls can access the opportunities that were once only available to men. And International Women’s Day reminds us that while, undoubtedly, there are still particular challenges for women, a fairer and more just society for all will be achieved when we have true gender equity on all fronts.

There could be no better educated generation of young people to achieve that for us.

References:
(n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2024 from https://www.pmc.gov.au/resources/status-women-report-card-2023
Coelli, M. (2022). Australian women are more educated than men, but gender divides remain at work. The Conversation. Retrieved February 8, 2024 from https://theconversation.com/australian-women-are-more-educated-than-men-but-gender-divides-remain-at-work-191944

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