Equality: Gender

‘I raise up my voice- not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.’ (Malala Yousafzai)

HOM: Listening with understanding and empathy.

One of my favourite historians is the Cambridge classics scholar Mary Beard. An older woman who became more publicly visible through presenting television programmes, she has felt the full brunt of what can happen when an older woman, will not go ‘quietly into the night’. In her book ‘Women and Power; A Manifesto’, she charts the silencing of woman about which she asserts ‘Western Culture has had thousands of years of practice’.

The reasons for the absence of women’s voices throughout much of history is complex and levelling blame simply at ‘the patriarchy’ is simplistic and unhelpful. However this week when we celebrate International Women’s Day,  we can seek to make sure that those who have wielded power and influence in the past are remembered and that their contributions are properly acknowledged and accredited. In addition, we can look ahead to provide opportunities for those whose voices are still not heard, so that they may not be held back.

Jokingly it has been said that we have focused too much on history and it should be rebalanced with a little more of herstory.  But of course, one of the things that has held many women back has been the lack of opportunities for education. This continues to be the case in many parts of the world and was brought very much to our attention by Malala Yousafzai who nearly paid with her life in pursuit of her education, and now uses the power of that education to campaign for the empowerment of girls around the world.

Women have and do wield influence and power and this week at school we will draw attention to those from whom we can learn and be inspired. In doing so it is hoped that more voices will be heard which will benefit humanity as a whole.


Christine Crossley