Girl power roars from the regions on International Women's Day

Regional female students are meeting movers and shakers on International Women’s Day. Kristi Pritchard-Owens and Sven Wright report.

Students wearing blazers with their teacher. Students wearing blazers with their teacher.
Image: Leadership road trip, from left: Bundarra Central School students Delilah Layton, Hayley Azzopardi, Natassha Gibson and principal Rebecca Fletcher (Principal). Absent: Serenna Higgins.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is 'Inspire Inclusion’ and it’s a message that resonates with Bundarra Central School principal Rebecca Fletcher and her staff.

Four Year 11 female students from the school on Anaiwan land between Armidale and Inverell were offered the chance to dial-in to the Young Women’s Leadership Seminar at NSW Parliament House.

Their principal, however, was adamant her students would attend in person.

“I am passionate about our students attending this seminar in Sydney, as I strongly believe that young women in rural and remote areas are inspiring,” Mrs Fletcher said.

“It is my hope that our students gain a new level of self-confidence from attending this seminar.

“They need fair and equitable access to opportunities like this in the city, so they know they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”

The students – who make up the entire Year 11 class at Bundarra Central – will travel 560 kilometres by road to Parliament House in Macquarie St, Sydney.

They will hear from keynote speaker, social psychologist Associate Professor Lisa Williams, and meet female Members of Parliament.

Mrs Fletcher hopes the experience will broaden the students’ horizons and show them new possibilities.

“I hope that by engaging with a variety of women in top leadership roles, it will inspire them to consider taking on leadership roles in their communities in the future,” she said.

“Bundarra Central School has a strong history of 'growing their own' for our community and it is opportunities like this seminar that give our girls the confidence to have a go.”

The students are ready to be inspired, according to Delilah Layton, a keen agriculture student.

“This is a great opportunity to learn about issues women face and the opportunities that are available for women in leadership,” Delilah said.

“I want to become a vet and work with livestock, even though agriculture is more a male-dominated industry.”

Students sitting at a long desk in front of a large screen on a wall. Students sitting at a long desk in front of a large screen on a wall.
Image: Rutherford Technology High School students ready to join the Duchess of York in an online meeting with an environmental advocacy focus.

Students talk sustainability with Duchess

Two Year 9 students from Rutherford Technology High School earned the right to put a question to the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, in an online meeting marking International Women’s Day.

Principal Simone Hughes said students Andrea Sherin and Lotus Antoni were delighted to take part and ask the Duchess what advice she had for young women looking to develop their leadership skills.

The online meeting was arranged by the Orbispace Initiative, an Australian charity encouraging girls to study STEM.

Andrea and Lotus last year won an Orbispace competition about sustainability in the NSW dairy industry, which earned them the right to ask the Duchess a question.

They also described their winning project to the Duchess about a process to use casein protein extracted from waste milk products to create a biodegradable plastic alternative for milk packaging.

“The Duchess, on a visit to Australia, shared her experience of philanthropy and advocacy, particularly environmental advocacy, and heard about projects students submitted to Orbispace’s ‘Pitch for the Planet’ competition,” Ms Hughes said.

“Direct contact with a female leader with such a high profile can only reinforce the motivation our students have for their studies and careers.”

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