Throughout March I’m highlighting brands, organisations and individuals who are making a difference in the lives of women – and how they are using public relations or other marketing tactics to do so.
This week … 3 awesome schools (and their teachers) and how they are teaching young women to be remarkable, contributing members of their communities – and the skills to do so.
As a former teacher I know there’s a lot of amazing extra-curricular work being done in schools, by individual teachers and the students they inspire.
Not only are teachers quietly preparing young people with the digital and communication skills they’ll need as 21st-century adults. But, they’re also – on a daily basis – encouraging their students to be aware and compassionate citizens.
I put a call out to my teaching professional networks, asking them how their schools were encouraging young women to #BeBoldForChange – and, what communication tactics – if any, they were using.
What I learned was that schools – and individual teachers and students – are turning to a mix of traditional and digital communication media to promote gender equality and access to opportunity.
In today’s post I’m highlighting just three examples. From my own in-school experience and from talking with colleagues around the country, I know there are many others.
Nagle College, Blacktown
Nagle College is a girls’ secondary college in Sydney’s western suburbs.
English teacher, Belinda Di Mauro, is the facilitator of Women Advocating for Value and Empowerment, aka, WAVE, a student-led initiative that meets weekly to explore gender issues within the students’ own community and beyond.
It’s effectively using social media to raise awareness of women’s issues through the hashtag #NagleWAVE on Twitter and with a video the students made for YouTube.
The initiative was started by a group of Year 10 students, who were inspired to learn more about women’s issues after studying the documentary Miss Representation in English.
This 2011 film examined how women are represented in mainstream media and culture, how this impacts on women’s opportunities and how they see themselves.
The WAVE group meets weekly and all students are invited to attend. Discussion topics are advertised in the school’s daily notices and have included:
- Issues of global inequality, such as gender pay gaps.
- Women in sport
- Prejudice in the workplace and,
- The representation of women in the media
The students also fundraise for the Presentation Sisters of Papua New Guinea, a Catholic charity that supports health and education programs in PNG.
“The Presentation Sisters work in a very remote area in PNG (Ningil and Yimut),” said Belinda.
“Our school, which was established by the Presentation Sisters in Australia, continues to support the Sisters as they provide education, healthcare and pastoral leadership in these remote (and often very hostile) areas.”
In the lead-up to International Women’s Day 2017 ( #IWD2017 ) the students took to Twitter to engage a broader audience in the issues they were learning about.
“The students decided to use social media as they wanted to ensure that our message(s) were conveyed beyond the school. They also discussed the fact that they felt it was an easy way to communicate and share ideas,” Belinda said.
WAVE has been widely supported within the Nagle College community.
“The students are networking across the school and are starting to have important conversations with key figures in their local and global community,” Belinda said.
“They are understanding that the work that they do as women today and in the future will continue to shape people’s perceptions and treatment of others.”
Year 12 Coordinator at Sydney’s Meriden College, Sonia Byrnes, wanted her students to realise that ‘success’ did not have to be limited to set paths.
“I noticed that Year Twelve seemed to have one set narrative as to what it looked like to be a successful woman and I desperately wanted to widen that and give them the perspective of many women who have navigated different paths,” said Sonia.
“It started as a result of conversations with girls who kept saying the same things about results, universities, identity and so forth. I realised that these young women genuinely thought that there was only a handful of ways to be a woman when really there were millions of ways.”
To widen this perspective for her students, Sonia organised a range of guest speakers from a variety of fields ‘who found their way through different journeys.’
“I have many contacts and amazing women in my life so I put out a call through social media and started to get contacts through that. I’m still receiving offers. It seems women want to talk to younger women and empower them and that makes me so excited,” said Sonia.
“We’ve heard and will hear from university professors who started out as waitresses with no idea what they wanted, media gurus who started in the hotel industry, lawyers who became teachers, hairdressers, scientists and more.”
Student-run Wellness Conference
A public high school in Sydney’s western suburbs is also working to empower its female students.
Teacher, Katie R, said the idea for a student-run Wellness Conference came from the school’s 2017 female captain, who was organising the conference with the help of other Year 12 girls and local community members.
“[The conference will] involve women in the local area speaking to our students about wellness, success and being a woman in the workforce,” said Katie.
“ Speakers include past students, local business women and members of parliament for our local area.
“The conference is the first of its kind and entirely student-run and organised. It will take place on the last day of Term 1, 2017.”
The students are still planning their communication strategy for this event. But, it is likely they will use the traditional communication channels of school newsletter and local media to promote the conference.
Last week, we saw how nine brands used their social media presence and other communication channels to raise awareness of the diversity of women’s achievements. Read that post HERE.
Over the coming weeks, each Wednesday, you’ll meet:
- Founder of Share the Dignity, Rochelle Courtenay. She and the charity she founded helps women and children who are homeless – particularly victims of domestic violence – by providing them with free sanitary items.
Share the Dignity is gearing up for its April #DignityDrive, its twice-yearly coordinated campaign encouraging the donation of sanitary items.
- Rachelle Panitz, the founder of the So Brave Breast Cancer Calendar.
Rachelle promotes awareness of breast cancer in younger women and fundraises for research.
She and her team are currently touring iconic regional locations in Victoria for their next calendar and have a series of fundraising events planned for March.
Follow along with the latest photo shoot via Facebook Live.
Bronnie continues to raise the profile of women in the fire and rescue services. Her work has contributed to more women joining the fire service.
Next week, read how five entrepreneurial women are helping other women in business and leadership.
How does your school or organisation promote the good work that you do?
What communication methods and strategies work best for you?