International Women’s Day 2019

Today, on International Women’s Day, Brisbane Girls Grammar School acknowledges the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world and throughout history.

While I believe the School celebrates these achievements every day, International Women’s Day encourages a collective recognition of the integral role of women in society, and the pursuit of gender equality in all spheres. It also stimulates discussion among the girls about their individual roles in disrupting the status quo through their own everyday actions.

Earlier today, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Ms Julie McKay, discussed her role in imploring organisations to take action and improve gender equality, inspiring students with her wise words:

‘Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something because you are a girl or because it isn’t something that women do. Be the first and draw strength from the many women who have been ‘first’ in their fields.’

At Girls Grammar, we have a proud history of students achieving ‘firsts’—pushing beyond previously accepted societal norms. These accomplishments are important in rewriting erroneous and restrictive narratives around the role of women in society, however, what we want most for the girls is to follow their own path, to contribute in their own individual ways, to use their unique talents for the advancement of all–or to simply but importantly contribute in their own meaningful ways within their own families and communities.

For, as Pilita Clark wrote in the Australian Financial Review this week, ‘there is a serious case to be made against the wearying expectation for women to be always more able, more ethical, more generous and more inspiring. We must demand the right to be as incompetent, lazy and useless as any man. That is where true equality lies.’

Tonight, the School will celebrate the musical achievements of women at the second International Women’s Day Concert, presented by our Instrumental Music Staff and performed by our talented musicians. The concert will highlight a stunning repertoire of music written by female composers from around the world.

I know how much this evening’s performers—our dedicated young musicians and vocalists—have been inspired by their introduction to such a diverse range of music created by contemporary Australian female composers, in particular.

Tonight, we will premiere three new pieces, commissioned by the School in celebration of International Women’s Day 2019. The Combined Strings Ensemble will perform Hildegard’s Daughters, composed by Natalie Williams, whose work is internationally renowned and performed by ensembles around the globe. Alice Chance, who also composes for and directs international ensembles, has created Taraxum, to be performed by the Chorale, and the Big Band will perform Unbelonging, composed by Sydney-based composer and educator, Ellen Kirkwood.

On this particular day of the year, International Women’s Day, we celebrate women’s achievement—not only in the composition and performance of music, but in all fields of endeavour where women have persisted to overcome obstacles in the pursuit of creative expression and the betterment of society more broadly.

At Brisbane Girls Grammar School, we remain proud of our important role in empowering girls and young women to contribute to our collective future.

Ms Jacinda Euler