Sheffield Telegraph Voices: Important questions to answer on International Women's Day

Katarina Melson, aged 10.
Katarina Melson, aged 10.

Staff and students at Sheffield High School For Girls take part in this week's debate to mark International Women's Day.

Example inspires us to fight for our beliefs

Zo Holmes, deputy head of Infant and Junior School.

Zo Holmes, deputy head of Infant and Junior School.

By Katarina Melson, aged 10

Why is it important to learn about the history of the women’s movement in Britain?

It is important to learn the history of the women’s movement in Britain, to hear how they continuously fought to get the vote for women and for gender equality.

Their example inspires us to fight for what we believe in, even when it seems impossible.

Kimran Singh-Sall, aged 17.

Kimran Singh-Sall, aged 17.

Without the Women’s Movement we wouldn’t have the vote and a voice in elections to say how the country is run.

We would also not have the same rights that men have enjoyed for centuries.

We need to learn about it, to recognise the brave women who gave up everything, showing such resilience, to reach their goal and making the lives of modern women brighter.

Learning about it makes us feel grateful and means that they are never forgotten.

Nayun Kim. aged 17.

Nayun Kim. aged 17.

It shows us that change can happen if you believe strongly and work together.

Thanks to the Women’s movement we can choose our future.

Wonder Women club is raising awareness

By Zoë Holmes, deputy head of Infant and Junior School

Emily Puddephatt, aged 16.

Emily Puddephatt, aged 16.

Gender is on our agenda – what are we doing at Sheffield High School?

We regularly celebrate inspirational women, including the four women who founded our school during a time of massive gender inequality in Victorian Britain.

Each year, we acknowledge International Women’s Day in March and this year we have taken it further by holding a ‘Vote 100’ Enrichment Day in our Infant and Junior School to celebrate 100 years since the Representation of the People Act.

Our aim is to give our youngest learners an appreciation of the struggle and courageous action undertaken by women’s movements, particularly the suffragettes and suffragists, to give us the rights we often take for granted today.

An exciting new link with some of our oldest students has just been established with the creation of a Wonder Women after-school club, aimed at raising the awareness of inspirational women, both historical and modern-day, amongst our Y5 pupils.

The idea for the weekly club, along with the responsibility for planning, organising and delivering it, lies with a group of passionate Y12 students.

Aimee Lashen, aged 11.

Aimee Lashen, aged 11.

Next week, our focus will move from celebrating Vote 100 to British Science Week.

We continually ensure that STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths - are actively promoted from nursery through to sixth form, along with frequent opportunities for enrichment in these areas.

Our whole school STEM week will be full of innovation, exploration, discovery and enjoyment.

Responsibility needs to be more balanced

By Kimran Singh-Sall, aged 17

How does the media have a role to play in promoting gender equality?

The media is a vast platform fully integrated in 21st century culture.

From film to television, to the news, it is now no longer a mere transference of information or a platform for entertainment, it is a key influence, contributing to shaping us as individuals and a society.

At present it is notorious for perpetuating gender inequality, especially as film and television are so male-dominated.

It must use its responsibility in a more balanced way rather than mainly focusing on showing traditional roles of women ranging from sexual accessories to damsels in distress.

Women and men should be portrayed equally as superheroes and as victims.

When the media does this, people respond, appreciating the support of something so encompassing.

We are a generation dominated by technology and the patriarchy and if the media promotes women in the same respect they do men, the fight against gender inequality wouldn’t seem so exhausting.

Still a long way to go before true equality

By Nayun Kim. aged 17

What are the struggles for women regarding gender inequalities?

Although modern society has become more gender equal in various ways, there is still a deeply rooted sense of gender inequality.

At workplaces for example, employers might employ a male applicant to avoid having to potentially pay a woman’s maternity leave.

Women who return to work after taking maternity leave then face an uphill struggle as they try to catch up their male counterparts who have not necessarily taken time out of their career, and this can account for the lower numbers of women in senior positions.

Since women are likely to earn less, they are more likely to give up work to stay home and look after children than their male partners.

Working mums can also struggle to balance work in the home; statistics still show that women are more likely to do the bulk of domestic chores, rather than these tasks being shared,

thus creating ‘dual burden’.

Although there is a ‘march of progress’, there is still a long way to go before we achieve a true gender equality.

Rights for mums and dads should be equal

By Emily Puddephatt, aged 16

What remains to be done to achieve gender equality and what role does government have in this?

As a young female, I acknowledge that gender equality has greatly improved during the last century.

Acts concerning equal pay (1970) and sex discrimination (1975) have contributed to its development.

However, despite these changes, I believe our society still lacks the total gender equality we need.

In 2010, the government published a shocking statistic that men, on average, earned 26 per cent more than women.

While there has been a significant narrowing of the gap (in 2016 it fell to 18 per cent), it is still not sufficient to achieve a just dynamic in the world of work.

But pay isn’t the only issue. Women are still seen as the primary care givers and men still hold most positions of power.

The Government should introduce equal maternity and paternity rights and encourage companies to re-skill women who are returning to work, so they make faster career progression.

Malala’s courage is an inspiration to me

By Aimee Lashen, aged 11

Give us an example of a woman who has inspired you

Malala Yousafzai is a very inspirational young woman who is known for fighting against the Taliban in northwest Pakistan so that girls, as well as boys, have the right to go to school and

receive an education.

She is an inspiration to me because of her great courage.

She was brave enough to make her voice heard amongst all of the other girls who may have agreed with her but never spoke up.

Her determination has inspired me to keep fighting to be heard, although many people may disagree with my views and try to set me back.

Malala has inspired me with her perseverance; even being shot in the head by the Taliban did not deter her and she kept on striving for her goal of girls attending school.

Malala knew what she wanted to change in the world and she made an enormous effort to achieve it.