In amongst all the noise about the weather (typically British topic of conversation, although to be fair it has been quite a dump) and the governmental approach to asylum seekers (I’m with you Gary!), you may well have missed a really important day / date. Something which has passed many people by, but which should be an incredibly important date on our calendar. We should have marked Wednesday this week. We didn’t, but we should have done so. We should have celebrated International Women’s Day.
As various websites and posts have suggested, in this part of the world, in the UK, the day might be about imagining a more gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world which is more equitable and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. The hashtag for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity.
We need to be realistic. It’s absolutely right that here in the UK we raise the profile of the ongoing battle to ensure that women and girls can live, be educated and work in an equal world. However, sadly there are too many countries or areas within the world, where a woman’s worth is underplayed and undervalued. There are too many parts of the world where women are increasingly invisible.
I know there’s little that we can directly do about some of those insidious regimes around the world, those who might choose to suppress women’s and girl’s rights; including (obscenely) denying an education. However, we can do more in this country, in our communities, and in our schools and colleges. I would like to think that in our community, in our trust, we have a collective desire to drive gender parity and ensure that all the work women and girls do is recognised and is impactful. Whoever you are, whatever we do, we should be working, day by day to ensure that we make a positive difference for women. And in doing so, we make a positive difference in and for our schools, in our college, in our community, in our country and then internationally.
It was great to see and read that the FA are making a real effort to drive improvement in female participation in sport in schools. Within our educational communities, we place an enormous emphasis on allowing all of our children and young people to access sporting opportunities. We know, realistically, that not every child can participate, however, we do provide the opportunities for all of our pupils and students to engage in a whole range of sporting activities. Beyond the opportunities to PE and enormous extra-curricular access at Sitwell and Oakwood we can illustrate this clearly through the range of ‘academies’ we offer at Thomas Rotherham College. The numbers of female students engaged in the academy programme is an equitable to, or even beyond, the numbers of male students involved in the programme. The offer is beyond that stereotypical picture and is seen in the range of sports offered, which might historically and traditionally be seen as the ‘male domain’. Those academies have an enormous impact upon the offer and atmosphere within the college, as much as on the individuals involved. Long may this continue.
Many of you will know that I passionately believe in the transformative powers of sport and sporting participation. I hold true to the belief that sport can change lives, not only in how women are viewed in a more equitable society, but we also get the benefit of improved physical health and mental well-being.
So, today, I’d like to take a moment to reflect upon what we’re doing to support our girls and young women, what we are doing to support our female colleagues. We know that we are on a journey and we’re not there yet, but there is a strong intention, within this trust, within this community, to continue to see all as valuable and that value will be recognised and celebrated. whoever you are and whatever you do.
‘They’ll tell you you’re too loud, that you need to wait your turn and ask the right people for permission. Do it anyway.’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez