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International Women's Day 2022: #BreakTheBias

On International Women's Day (IWD), Tuesday, 8 March, UWCSEA celebrated the achievements of women and advocated for gender equality. This year's UN theme was 'Gender Equality for a Sustainable Tomorrow,' to break traditional biases and empower women and girls with opportunities and tackle constraints on their equal participation in decision-making and action related to climate change and development.

Supporting female changemakers

The UWC mission defines our purpose as a College, to make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Critical to this mission is gender inclusion and parity, for, without gender equality, a sustainable future remains beyond our reach and one way we can do this is to identify and challenge long held biases which serve to reinforce gender inequality.

On IWD, Carma Elliot, College President, invited the community to support female scholars with a gift to the UWCSEA Scholarship Programme. As part of our IWD fundraising appeal, Carma shared the stories of a few of our remarkable female alumna who have benefitted from contributions to the Scholarship Programme, and now serve as powerful role models for other students seeking to live the UWC mission in action. For example, Faustine Karasira '15 – who has dedicated her career to promoting peace and inclusion in Rwanda, and Karla Lorena Huaman Ruiz '13 – who co-founded Arriba, which seeks to level the playing field for first-generation college students and professionals in Peru. The fundraising appeal will remain open throughout March, and donations will directly support a future UWCSEA female changemaker scholarship. You can make your gift here.

President's Panel: Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Later in the day, Carma hosted a President’s Panel exploring how to tackle constraints on equal participation in decision-making and action related to climate change and equitable, sustainable development. She was joined by experts, including Jolene Lum (Temasek Holdings and UWC National Committee Member, Singapore), Kanak Muchhal (Daughters of Tomorrow), Shailey Hingorani (AWARE), Mia Eskelund (Amala). Grade 12 student and scholar, Andreia, co-hosted the panel and helped moderate the lively discussion while tackling questions posed by UWCSEA students and the audience. Questions for the panellists included: How can women participate in decision-making more fully? What is the value of a meritocracy or quota system in achieving gender equality? And, How can we address the invisible gender bias? In closing the event, Carma noted the imperative of men and women working together on gender equality and thanked the speakers for sharing their expertise on how each of us can make a difference. Read more here.

Raising awareness on campus 

On East Campus, High School Focus Groups, Because I am and Generation Education Period, and High School GCs, Daraja and I-India, held awareness-raising and advocacy events during the week of 8 March. Displays in the Tent Plaza celebrated inspirational women and a slideshow on the campus screens showcased women in the community and those who had pledged to #BreakTheBias. On Friday, 4 March, the East Campus High School Debate Club hosted a debate, considering the motion 'This house believes that celebrity icons have corrupted feminist movements'. The event was streamed live on Zoom and the debaters presented persuasive and nuanced arguments exploring the provocative thesis. And throughout the week, the East Campus cafe, Santai, offered IWD-themed appreciation vouchers and on Tuesday, 8 March, IWD-themed cupcakes were for sale.

Our Dover Campus community celebrated by coming to school dressed in purple and white, the colours of IWD, signifying justice, dignity and purity. Age-appropriate classroom activities and discussions inspired students across Primary, Middle and High School to consider what gender equality looks like in their daily lives. Using resources such as the UN’s Twelve small actions with big impact for Generation Equality, teachers and mentors facilitated discussions that engaged students to find ways to work towards making a difference. Global Concerns groups Casa da Amizade GC Himalayan GC and Pakistan GC sold flowers, stickers and other items to raise funds to benefit female communities in need. Educational posters in the Tent Plaza also helped to inspire the community throughout the day.

Gender equality, is not just about equal opportunity, but also equal recognition, creating a safe space where girls and non-binary people are able to pursue their interests.

– Aditi, She Hacks team

Creating conversations online

Throughout the week, the College's social media channels on Instagram and Facebook brought International Women's Day themes and activities to life, sparking conversations around #BreaktheBias and encouraging each of us to be agents of change for a fair and equitable future for all. Be sure to check out the IWD special edition of UWCSEA's weekly photography round-up, Camera on Campus.

Learn more about gender equality at UWCSEA:

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