Leaders share thoughts ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD)

We thank former IGS head students for sharing their thoughts on the importance of IWD.

2011 Head Girl Charlotte Kitchin said International Women’s Day has always been about celebrating the women in her life who continue to inspire her.

“They’ve not only taught me compassion, empathy and understanding, but encouraged me to nourish and celebrate these traits within myself and others,” Charlotte said.

“I believe these are fundamental to effective leadership and essential to tackling the world’s increasingly complex challenges,” she said.

“I am currently based in London working for a solar energy developer as an Environmental Analyst. My job is concerned with developing the company’s approach to sustainability and exploring new and innovative ways to ensure solar development is undertaken in an environmentally responsible way.

“I am lucky enough to be a part of a company that celebrates diversity as being at the heart of innovation.”

2020 Head Boy Parker Floris said “International Women’s Day is a recognition that there is still work to be done in minimising gender disparities around the globe, in fields such as education, occupation and certain liberties we take for granted in the developed world.”

Parker, who is studying Media, Public Relations and Advertising at UNSW, said he is enjoying his course and finds the lecturers fascinating.

He recently completed his first paid photography job and is working on a startup with former IGS student Henry Smith.

“The start up is focused around promoting media literacy and productive discussions within society. I’m also now the social media coordinator for Blitz (UNSW Media Society).”

2019 Head Girl Siena Scott-Hickie said International Women’s Day allows her a moment to check her own privilege, while acknowledging the opportunities she has had that are not available to many other women around the world.

“Specifically being able to attend university and pursue a career in STEM,” Siena said.

“I see it also as a day to reflect on the communities we can continue to support such as women of colour, the queer community and women with disabilities who have not benefitted from the same kind of improvements that I have in recent time,” Siena said.

“This being said, it should also be a day of celebration for how far women’s rights have come and championing voices that will continue to advocate for gender equality into the future.” 

Siena is currently studying a Bachelor of Biotechnology with a Spanish minor at the Australian National University. She lives on campus and is the vice president and sport representative of the residential hall committee.  

2009 Head Boy Dylan Parker said International Women’s Day is a reminder that a society where women are empowered is better, not just for women, but for everyone.

“Men actively building up, listening to and being willing to follow women doesn’t just improve the status of women, it makes men better,” Dylan said.

Dylan works as an advisor at NSW Parliament. He is also an elected Randwick City Councillor.

“I am currently studying my second degree in Secondary Teaching at UNSW with a main teaching area in history. I have completed a Bachelor of Political, Economic and Social Sciences at Sydney University,” he said.

“When not working or studying, I am a volunteer Maroubra Surf Lifesaver.”

2013 Head Girl Hanako Shibuya said International Women’s Day for is a day to reflect, celebrate and respect the generations of women who have fought to get us where we are today.

“It is a day to acknowledge women who are fighting every day for their rights and freedoms. It is a day to appreciate the incredible women who surround us and have paved the way for us all,” she said.

“I am lucky enough to have had amazing women in my life as role models and educators, who inspired me along the path to becoming one myself. As a result, I am currently a Primary School teacher at a local Public School in Sydney.

“Hopefully I can have the same positive impact on my students as my teachers had on me.

2012 Head Boy Isaac Harmelin said we all benefit when opportunities are equal.

“I was moved by a recent visit to the National Library of New Zealand which was displaying the original women’s suffrage petition papers, mailed around the country by suffragette Kate Sheppard in the early 1890s,” Isaac said.

“In this moment, I am reminded of two things: a world where PM Jacinda Ardern could not have ascended to her rank is a possible alternative world, but those before us chose to take a better path by fostering a culture that valued women’s full participation in society; and we who remain as beneficiaries of the work of others must take up the mantle of preserving and advancing the legacy handed down by women before us.

“All of us, not only women, benefit when opportunities are equal and we can tap into the widest talent pool possible.

“Unity in purpose can be achieved by diversity in perspective and approach.

“This IWD, I invite you, as global citizens and members of the IGS community, to reflect on the world we could have inherited, and the one which we might bestow. We have a moment to contemplate the social and political realties in which we find ourselves in Ultimo, in Sydney, in Australia and in our globalised world. It takes all of us, not just women, to maintain a course toward a society we will be proud, in our turn, to hand down to those who come after us.”

2018 Head Girl Mi-kaisha Masella said International Women’s Day is about celebrating the women in her life who have taught her what it means to be strong, resilient and unapologetically herself.

“It is about continuing a crucial conversation of deconstructing misogyny and sexism in our communities and a physical reminder that we still have a lot of work to do before justice is achieved,” she said.

Mi-kaisha is currently completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Recorded Music at NYU in New York City, while enjoying time back home in Sydney by studying remotely.