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MLC Hosts International Women’s Day Event

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On Friday 8 March 2024, Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) on campus for the first time.

The event included a networking breakfast followed by a panel discussion to explore the 2024 IWD theme, Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress.

The panel was comprised of five past MLC students who are leaders in their respective fields: Evangeline Athanasiou (moderator), Emma Garlett, Dr Katharine Giles, Nicolle Jenkins and Kate Kirwin.

2024 WA Young Australian of the Year Kate Kirwin said the reason she agreed to join the MLC panel discussion was to inspire the future generation of changemakers.

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate and reflect, but it’s also about how we push forward. How do we translate that momentum into change?” Ms Kirwin asked.

“For me, it’s about accelerating the next generation of change. But change doesn’t just happen. We need to speak up, be brave and take the opportunities presented. Ask our male allies, our companies and our government to move the needle. Action is more important than words.”

MLC Principal Rebecca Clarke echoed this sentiment and said the MLC community were blessed with role models – both male and female – who are showing our young people how to influence for impact.

“International Women’s Day enables us to acknowledge all who have played a role in advancing the opportunities for women as we pursue gender parity across the world,” Ms Clarke said.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility leading MLC, aspiring that each girl always feels that she can achieve anything regardless of her gender. And I truly believe that here at MLC, she feels that way.”

Dr Katharine Giles is the Director and CEO of OncoRes Medical, a Perth-based company focused on improving the accuracy of breast cancer surgery. Dr Giles attributed an all-girls’ education to her success in the male-dominated medical industry.

“MLC have set me up for everything I’ve done in my career. I was given the skills and mindset to do anything I wanted to do and the capacity to make change,” Dr Giles said.

“A lot of us are sometimes constrained by our own beliefs of what’s possible. So, to have role models who have gone and done it, the aim [of the panel discussion] is to inspire future generations.”

Nicolle Jenkins’ daughters are the third generation in her family to come to MLC and said that an all-girls’ environment is preparing them to fight stereotypes they will potentially come across externally.

“What’s unique about an all-girls’ education is the community it creates that gives them to ability to have choice; because education provides choice,” Mrs Jenkins said.

“Girls have the opportunity and freedom to create their own identity so when they leave school, they’re prepared to be themselves, find out who they are and fight the fight.

“That’s why we need to keep celebrating this day. We still fundamentally have such a long journey to go and there’s so much more that needs to be done.”

In the current climate where IWD has been labelled by some as “obsolete”, it is now more important than ever to come together and show our young people strong examples of what it means to accelerate progress.

Emma Garlett, who is a passionate advocate for justice and law reform for First Nations people, used her experience to offer some timely advice to the students in the audience.

“I think there’s something to be said about women being confident in their worth, value and what they bring to the table. There’s an opportunity in the future for women to validate themselves; to have that intrinsic worth and know what they’re capable of,” Ms Garlett said.

“Looking back, I would have used my voice more and been involved in the opportunities presented to me. Our MLC girls have so many opportunities. So, my advice would be to take all the opportunities you get, don’t limit yourself and just do it. There’s so much power in that.”

MLC Deputy Head Prefect Annabella Davies said the event left her feeling motivated and ready to use her leadership position to accelerate change and influence for impact.

“I really enjoyed the event because it created a sense of community where women can support each other,” Annabella said.

“It was fantastic to hear from inspiring women who have achieved great things and overcome gender barriers.”

Category

2024

Date

15 March 2024

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