One of our school values is to be bold. It is an important value and one that I cherish.
To me, being bold means standing up for what you believe in, allowing your voice to be heard and having the confidence to campaign when you think an injustice has been served.
The girls at BGS have a history of campaigning and supporting campaigns around the world, such as Educate Girls India, building cricket pitches and schools for girls in Afghanistan, joining the One Billion Rising campaign against female violence to name just a few.
At BGS I want the girls to have a view on life. I want them to feel that they can make things better because I fundamentally believe that is the purpose of education – to make the world a better place. Where they see injustice I want our students to feel empowered that they can stand up, make their voices heard, make a difference and make a change. The girls in the Lower Sixth have done just this. They have joined the campaign to remove the tax on sanitary products. Speaking passionately at a school assembly they encouraged all the girls to sign the petition to remove the 5% tax on sanitary products such as panty liners and tampons. These items are taxed because they are deemed a luxury item. For every woman going through her period, tampons are not luxuries, they are necessities. Yet crocodile steaks, perhaps agreed by many to be a luxury and therefore unnecessary item, are exempt from the tax.
The girls at the assembly also talked about the impact homelessness has on women and how periods make living on the streets even more difficult. Once a month homeless women do not have the funds to look after their sanitary needs, they often are forced to use rags or toilet paper to cope with their monthly menstruation. In homeless shelters, men’s razors and condoms are often provided free, tampons and other sanitary items are scarce, expensive items.
The girls once again galvanised the School and by the end of the year we had collected over 4,000 items of sanitary products to donate to homeless shelters. Small acts can make significant changes. The girls have not just raised awareness and started conversations at home, they have also encouraged action in order to help others.
Like me, they are now actively supporting the campaign that chips away at reducing another element of discrimination. In chipping away at these elements they are trying to make the society in which we live more inclusive. That’s why I believe the value of being bold is so important.