Written by Harry Anstey-Walsh (BGS Vice Captain), on behalf of the students at Brisbane Grammar School.
To our female staff members at BGS.
I will never be able to fully understand the unique challenges that come along with being a woman at a school attended by boys, and for the most part, run by men. However, on behalf of every student at this school, I would like to thank you all for the hard work, courage and kindness that you demonstrate every day at this school.
International Women’s Day (Monday 8 March) is an incredibly significant time that allows us to show our appreciation for the women in our lives and everything they do for us. It gives us an opportunity to recognise the ways that women change our world. But perhaps most importantly, we get to hear stories that show us there is no one right way to be a woman that changes the world.
The theme for this International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge, something that is especially important to me. I have come from a long line of women who have chosen to challenge. One of my grandmothers started and ran a manufacturing business in a time when she couldn’t even open a bank account. All of the finances were under my grandfather’s name. My other grandmother fled Poland in World War II as a young girl and started over in Australia where she eventually started her own business. It was this business that my mother grew and has run ever since.
However, in wake of the stories told by brave young women that have emerged in the last few weeks about boys from private, single-sex schools not respecting women, it feels lazy of me to just write you words of thanks. I would also like to make a promise to all of you. I believe the Choose to Challenge theme is perhaps even more significant in its applications for men. Too often, men turn a blind eye to the subtle but ever-present sexism that pervades their thoughts and relationships. Choosing to challenge is about men holding each other accountable. Because the only way we can achieve gender equality is by working together to challenge assumptions and change minds.
I promise to continue to hold myself and others accountable for sexism. I promise to honour the hard work of my mother and my two grandmothers. I promise to continue fighting for gender equality.
Once again, I would like to say thank you for everything you do for us on this International Women’s Day. Your choice to teach shows us what it means to be a strong, empowered woman.