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March 9th 2022

Cheryl Giovannoni, CEO of the GDST, reflects on International Womens Day

Every single girl in a GDST school has the opportunity to make a difference in the world, for themselves and for others

Every year, International Women’s Day provides a powerful and poignant reminder of what everyone at the GDST strives for every day.

In an unequal world where women continue to face many challenges, our mission to reach as many girls as possible, to equip them with the confidence and agency to face the world with courage and conviction, is as important as ever.

I know that today in all our schools, girls will take part in activities that reinforce what our teachers encourage in classrooms everyday – to have the confidence to take risks; to try, sometimes to fail, but never to give up; to always get up, dust themselves off and try again; to be fearless when they step out into the world and make the most of the opportunities that the privilege of an education gives them.

We may still feel that progress towards reaching equality is painfully slow. However, it is worth knowing that every single girl in a GDST school has the opportunity to make a difference in the world, for themselves and for others, so that ultimately they make the world a better place for everyone. Every one of our teachers and every one of our support staff who works in a GDST school is part of this invaluable progress.

This year, it is impossible to mark International Women’s Day without being moved by the heart-breaking events taking place in Ukraine, where women and their children are caught up in the crossfire of war. Women are being forced to flee their homes with their families. And literally overnight, the safe haven of the classroom and the routines that come with being at school every day are being taken away from their children. We are seeing daily stories of the enormous courage women are showing when forced into unimaginable situations and our thoughts are with them today. I am reminded of the quote from Millicent Fawcett, the leading suffragist and campaigner for equal rights for women in the 19th century, which sums up their humbling bravery for us all, “Courage calls to courage everywhere, and its voice cannot be denied.” 

I know there are so many ways in which people across the GDST family have been personally impacted by the tragic events which are unfolding. You are in our hearts and our thoughts.  

So, this year on International Women’s Day, we remember more than ever the importance of the GDST mission, but also kindness and compassion for everyone in Ukraine showing enormous courage and resilience.   

Yesterday when I was scrolling my newsfeed, I saw this video – click here – of a young girl, Amelia, singing to people in an underground bunker. It is an incredibly moving example of the courage and strength of a young girl bringing a moment of joy to people in such difficult times by doing what she loves.  

This year I will be making a contribution to UN Women who are supporting women in Ukraine and I invite you to join me in supporting their work.  


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