Celebrating women’s achievements

International Womens’ Day is marked on Friday 8 March.

By Mary Ryan

The Council of Catholic School Parents of NSW is urging everyone to get behind International Womens’ Day on Friday 8 March.

Better the balance, better the world. Increasingly in Australia and globally, we hear about or take part in conversations about gender balance – in government, in the workplace, in sport, in leadership positions.

Balance drives a better working world and this is the theme of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

Throughout history we know of extraordinary women who have done some extraordinary things.

Their courage to take action has challenged social norms and pushed boundaries. Mary MacKillop was excommunicated from the Church for insubordination and her religious order was disbanded despite educating some of the poorest in the community and reaching out to those most in need.

Young activist, Rahaf Al Qunun, who was granted asylum in Canada risked her life to leave Saudi Arabia and spoke publicly about what life is like as a Saudi woman and about gender inequality.

International Women’s Day is about celebrating these women and the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

It is important that we take action now so that future generations are able to thrive in a gender balanced world, where unconscious gender bias is a thing of the past.

At home and at school, through our actions and our words, we have the ability to inspire and educate our children about the role of women in society, to celebrate women’s achievements and to challenge stereotypes.

So, how can we promote gender balance at home and at school among our children?

At school

The International Women’s Day website has useful resources for teachers to promote International Women’s Day and gender balance such as activity booklets, fact sheets, role model case studies, videos and reading lists.

Resources can be found here

At home

Initiate conversations. Consider sparking conversations that question gender stereotypes and challenge children to think about the role of women in their communities and society. Talk about strong women leaders and the challenges of women in leadership roles.

Make an effort to celebrate the achievements of the women in your children’s lives such as mum getting a new job or a promotion at work. Also discuss the achievements of women in research or industry.

Share chores. If boys take out the rubbish while girls take care of the vacuuming in your house, think about reversing these responsibilities.

We tend to assume that society is moving forward and closing the gender gap, but we all have a role to play in advancing gender balance and we need to be conscious that even small things can send a big message, such as asking girls to do more housework than boys.

Be a good role model. Share household responsibilities equally within the family structure, read stories that promote gender balance, speak positively about women and their role in society and create an environment of respect for all.

So much of the social media landscape is superficial, particularly when it comes to Snapchat and Instagram.

Instead of following ‘Insta stars’, follow women who you consider inspirational, such as politicians, activists, journalists and musicians.

Mary Ryan is currently the Acting Executive Director of The Council of Catholic School Parents and works for Catholic Schools NSW supporting schools in the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data.