This year’s conference, “Freedom, Respect, Equality, Education” covered the challenging and highly topical issues of sexual health, abortion, teenage pregnancy and contraception. Local schools, including Trinity and JAGS, as well as sister GDST schools Putney High and Brighton and Hove High sent delegates to join the Conference and all of those present contributed to an excellent exchange of ideas.
High calibre speakers from the charity Brook, Marie Stopes and Amnesty International covered a range of issues from the reproductive rights of women in sub-Saharan Africa and the implications of the Mexico City Policy on international sexual health services, to the availability of contraception, teenage pregnancy and the quality of sex education at home in the UK.
Professor Judith Stephenson, who is the Margaret Pyke Professor of Sexual & Reproductive Health at UCL (University College London), gave a fascinating insight into her current research on improving use of contraception and how women plan and prepare for pregnancy.
Professor Stephenson is herself a GDST girl (Portsmouth High School) with a daughter at Blackheath High School and a sister and two sisters-in-law who all attended GDST schools! Professor Stephenson commented on how impressive she was with the young women who organised the event and how much she enjoyed being a part of it. “Coming in to a GDST school feels a little bit like coming home,” she said.
Croydon High’s Headmistress, Emma Pattison said, “We often talk about the breadth of education that we offer and this was a prime example of how a school can begin to make a real difference to the world around its pupils, when those pupils are prepared to be bold and inquisitive in their approach to learning”.
The Conference was organised by one of Croydon High’s Senior Prefect team, Caroline Ip, who planned the whole event, including choosing and researching the topic, with the support of her fellow Prefects.
Caroline said “I think all the delegates would agree that it was thoroughly inspiring to be educated by the speakers on these topics but also empowering to be able to share opinions freely and openly. Thank you to those who contributed and I hope that everyone who attended has gone away with a deeper understanding of the situation regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights across the world.”
The National Council of Women was founded in 1895 as a response to the unsatisfactory working conditions experienced by women at that time. It quickly developed into a nationwide network of small groups and within a couple of years was affiliated with the International Council of Women.
Today, the NCW aims to make women of all ages more engaged in local, regional, and national affairs. It aims to hear the views of all women, and to have those views heard at the highest level of government.
The National Council of Young Women provides a unique opportunity for younger women (and men) to learn about and discuss topical issues, and to make a real contribution to improving and educating our society.
Croydon High School is very proud to be the NCYW flagship for Southern England