by Zara Karimi (18A01A), Ashley Tan (18A13A)
Last week, you may have encountered a classmate or two sporting a bright purple ribbon in their hair or around their wrist. You may have caught a glimpse of the videos playing in the canteen. You may have walked past a poster or two, packed with bite-size information on women’s rights.
International Women’s Day is commemorated on the 8th of March every year. While it has been celebrated since the early 20th century, it was only adopted by the United Nations in 1975. Since then, the UN has championed a wide variety of causes.
After observing that International Women’s Day has not been celebrated in RI for the past couple of year, Dong Yu Hui, Du Dongyue, and Amelia Goh from 17S06I came together to organise several initiatives to engage the school community, seeking to raise awareness about the importance of this event. Together, they designed and put up posters near the entrance of the canteen, and arranged for the screening of promotional videos. Additionally, purple ribbons were distributed to every class on Wednesday morning to allow members of the school community to show their support.
Press spoke with Amelia and Yu Hui to learn more about the work they did to make IWD celebrations possible in RI.
What were the motivations behind making IWD celebrations in RI possible?
Amelia: In RGS, IWD used to be a really huge and celebrated event, and I think it should be an equally important occasion here because there are both males and females in RI … and I think we can target guys as well as they, too, are agents of change. After all, achieving gender equality requires the engagement of everyone in the community – it’s not just a fight fought by females.
Yuhui: I think there is a need to be aware of these issues as gender inequality is still a very prevalent issue. We were actually quite shocked that RI didn’t have any commemoration for IWD last year. Regarding the motivations… we actually started small. I thought that I could wear a purple rubber band on IWD, and maybe ask a few of my friends to do the same. Then, I thought of asking my class to wear purple rubber bands as well, and this slowly evolved into an idea of getting the whole school to come on board!
Was the school management supportive of these ground-up efforts to raise awareness about IWD?
Yuhui: I think the school has a good avenue for student-initiated projects like these. We initiated the IWD project via Community Education (CE) 01 projects under “advocacy”, and submitted a simple proposal online before we were assigned a mentor, Dr Alice Tan.
How do you think future IWD celebrations can improve from here on out?
Amelia: I think a bigger population of the school can get involved, such as students from the Humanities Programme (HP), so that we can increase the scale of celebrations.
Yuhui: We could have also included male students in the team to include their perspectives on gender-based issues so that we can better reach out to the male population in our school.
Amelia: Hopefully future batches will take the initiative to plan more activities to celebrate IWD.
Needless to say, there was a prodigious amount of hard work and dedication that went into planning IWD celebrations. The fact that these three students channelled so much effort into turning the seed of an idea into a tangible reality to advocate for a cause that they believe in is truly inspiring.
In the words of Michael Chow (18A13A), “the celebration of International Women’s Day is important because the celebration of women’s rights is universal. The celebration of women is not necessarily exclusive to women, but an equal celebration of the human race.”