Women in Education
We understand how important education is to enabling women and girls achieve their potential in all areas of their lives, it is a theme of our previous articles about women in the law and women in health, and well researched. We are especially pleased then to have two speakers at our conference who are inspirational women from the education sector – a Primary Academy Principal, Joanna Young, and at the other end of the education journey in Higher Education, Professor Dame Janet Finch, former Vice-Chancellor of Keele University. We are looking forward to hearing about their own stories as well as their thoughts on educating women and girls in the modern millennial age.
There are many inspirational role models promoting education; we have chosen to highlight two women who have worldwide impact, but not just because they are famous for their roles or titles, but because they bring a very human approach to the way they work.
We know that Michelle Obama is on a mission to improve the education of girls worldwide – she is an amazing role model who says she is also touched and inspired by the young people she meets around the world. Revisiting a London school in December she said meeting the girls “reminded me how much courage and talent and hope there is” She formed a personal bond with these girls, kept in touch with them from her first visit several years earlier, and had a real impact on their lives. She has humility and recognises that everyone has value; inspiration is not a one way street:
“On a personal level I was moved and touched and inspired as I always am by the young people I meet around the world. It gives me a level of focus and determination when I get to see you all up close. And as I said then, you remind me of me and all the fears and all the challenges that you face. You give me a sense of comfort because being first lady wasn’t the easiest job in the world but I got strength from you, so thank you all for that, thanks for giving me that.”
Malala Yousafzai’s story is legendary, how as a Pakistani schoolgirl she defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban and has become a global advocate for women’s rights, especially the right to education. She is an amazing woman to have done this, but she says:
‘I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls’.
Having recovered from her injuries and settled with her family in a new home in the UK, Malala realised:
‘I could live a quiet life or I could make the most of this new life I had been given. I determined to continue my fight until every girl could go to school. With my father, who has always been my ally and inspiration, I established Malala Fund, a charity dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. In recognition of our work, I received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014 and became the youngest-ever Nobel laureate’.
She believes ‘we will see every girl in school in my lifetime’ – and even in the UK where we take girls’ education for granted Malala’s story is well known and inspires girls to see the value of their education and support her ideals.
Soroptimists have a vision that women and girls will achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. Our club in Nantwich and District is celebrating amazing women who help transform women’s lives at our 70th Anniversary Conference on 1st June, and we really hope you can join us there. You can register here.
In the meantime, tell us your experiences in education – did you have encouraging teachers? Were you told you couldn’t be something? and let us know whether you think progress is being made to achieve our vision.