International Day of the Girl, which falls annually on 11th October, was established by the United Nations in 2012 to raise awareness of the issues faced by girls around the world. The day is also aimed at promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights.
As global leaders in girls’ education, we marked this occasion with a very special invitation from the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jane Hartley. Following her inspirational visit to Streatham & Clapham High School to celebrate International Women’s Day in March with students from the school, neighbouring state schools and GDST sister schools, Ambassador Hartley hosted 24 students from the same schools (Streatham & Clapham, Wimbledon High School and La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School) at the U.S. Embassy in London.
To demonstrate her commitment to achieving gender equality and getting more women into leadership roles, Ambassador Hartley gave the students an opportunity to ask a panel of top women in the US Office questions about their careers in diplomacy. Shiva Marvasti: Economic Officer, U.S. Embassy London and Karin King: Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, U.S. Embassy London joined Ms Hartley on the day.
“Only your dreams are your limitation – aim high.” — Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom
In her opening remarks to start the panel, Ambassador Hartley spoke about her responsibility as an ambassador and as a woman; she is only the second woman to take up the role of US Ambassador to the United Kingdom in a hundred years. She confirmed that she hopes to encourage more young women to gain an interest in politics to ensure that she was not the last woman ambassador to the UK. She also praised the younger generation’s desire to move in the right direction towards a future where it is aspirational to have or to become a woman leader. She reminded the girls of the power of diversity, and closed her speech with some sage advice: “Only your dreams are your limitation – aim high.”
The Q&A session featured some interesting questions from the girls, and equally illuminating responses from the top women in politics. One standout question was: “As politics is such a male dominated environment, have you experienced any barriers or prejudice and if so how did you go about dealing with or overcoming this? Are there any tips you would give to any women in positions of power or even just women in the workplace who may come across prejudice?”
While acknowledging that society has moved on and there are less barriers, all the panellists agreed that there are still subtle prejudices. Ambassador Hartley advised the girls to be prepared, to do their homework, and not be afraid to speak up. She also encouraged them to bring different perspectives and understand other viewpoints because they are great advantages for negotiating.
Shiva encouraged the students to know their strength, bring something to table and never discount themselves. And to remember that other women are their allies.
Following the engaging panel, the students were given a tour of the US embassy to round off a truly unforgettable day. We are honoured to have collaborated with the US embassy to mark such an important day for girls and young women.
The GDST Difference
In March 2023, the GDST published ‘The GDST Difference’ – a booklet compiling our own research, and analysis of the findings, setting out to breakdown why GDST schools and all-girl learning environments can offer the best start in life for young women. Discover more about the GDST Difference.