WOWed at Women Of the World
Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to attend the Women of the World (WOW) festival at the Southbank Centre in London. The WOW Festival is now established as an important event which works in partnership with organisations across the world to celebrate women and girls and raise awareness globally of the issues they face and possible solutions. The WOW Foundation is a charity that believes a gender equal world is possible and desirable by empowering women and girls. Given this powerful ethos, it was not surprising that the GDST was a contributing organisation.
So at the end of a long school week, Mrs Argile and I found ourselves in the audience watching our CEO Cheryl Giovannoni in conversation with Ramita Navai, a GDST alumna of Putney High School. Ramita Navai is an Emmy- and Robert F. Kennedy award-winning British-Iranian journalist, documentary producer and author. She has reported from over forty countries and has a reputation for investigations and work in hostile environments. Ramita has won awards for her journalistic work relating to women and girls in Afghanistan and Iran.
She was the most incredible speaker, talking passionately about her undercover reporting from a women’s prison in Afghanistan. Her bravery was clear in exposing the plight of young women and girls taken from the streets of the country, imprisoned without any pretence of due process and, in some cases, forced into marriage with members of the Taliban.
We were all gripped by her words, any thoughts of Friday evening fatigue long gone. Back at school, I talked to my Year 6 Mighty Girls Club about her work and, even delivered second-hand by me, they were riveted by the issues raised.
This week, as the new school year starts in Afghanistan, it appears that the Taliban have abandoned their promise to reopen High Schools to girls. Schools and Universities are barred to girls over the age of twelve. This situation has continued for over a year and a half; an outrage that Ramita Navai is clearly committed to keeping in the public consciousness and she should be applauded for doing so.
If anyone was in doubt that the fight for gender equality was over, the WOW Festival and Ramita’s contribution to it made the reality resoundingly clear. The reaction of our own Year 6s gives hope in the passion they feel about these matters and that they are so hungry to be the agents of change. As the educators of girls, we have a duty to support and encourage them in that drive.
Written by Mrs S Skevington, Head of Junior School
Watch the GDST's short film showcasing its partnership with WOW - Underlining the importance of girls’ education in helping women lead lives without limits.