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International Women's Day
8th March 2022
Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
I am empowered to speak as a woman on International Women's Day 2022 and to use the platform of Rector to raise a clarion call to all members of the community.
The fact of being the first female Rector of the High School has been a cause for comment (and I hope celebration) since I was appointed to the role back in 2019. At that time, I committed to stepping forward to build a culture that truly 'lives' our core values within the context of our shared humanity. I stand by the statement I made in June 2020:
“I want to make a commitment to you all. To engage the whole community in challenging ourselves to examine our views of the world and to live our Core Values. To respect all those around us, to listen to the experiences of all, to add our voices and actions to those demanding change and to act with compassion, confidence and kindness.”
International Women's Day is a chance to refocus on challenging bias, stereotypes, inequality and discrimination and to empower all members of our community irrespective of how they identify to believe in their own power and be themselves no matter what.
I was fortunate enough to be interviewed, last week, by the editor of our brilliant 'Columns' Magazine. The subject of the interview (alongside Deputy Rector Sam Watson) was our reflections on our own experiences as women in leadership positions. As ever, in articulating my responses and exploring my feelings and beliefs in this regard, I was reminded of the importance of the strong role models who have shaped me.
I could have chosen a myriad of women on which to comment. From world leaders, to great figures from history, to female inventors, artists, explorers in every walk of life. Women have formed and transformed our world too often invisibly and without recognition or celebration. We should rectify this whenever and wherever we can, championing each other and calling out discrimination, misogyny and the abuse of power. Many in our community identify as feminists, activists, advocates and upstanders. This day as every day, as Rector I am immensely proud that our community embraces and celebrates this diversity and action. We stand together and step forward as one.
However, on this international Women's Day, I want to focus on the female role model who has had the most profound effect on my life; My Mum. I do not have space here to do justice to my mother, a so called 'stay at home' Mum who is my guiding light both for the 'full time' job that she still does every day but also for her life's work which is to help others. This has formed me and continues to bolster me through every challenge that I face both in raising the two amazing young women who are my daughters and also professionally. She has an absolute ability to 'raise me up' offer unconditional love and act as a critical friend when required. She has the uncanny ability to know exactly what I need to hear, even when I don't recognise it myself.
This has been a working model for me and one to which I aspire every day. I am reminded of the opportunity that I have, as a woman and mother, to shape the future for my daughters and your daughters. To instill in them a sense of self that will prepare them to stand up and speak out. To not accept the limitations of others or the abuse of power or restrictions to their freedom of thought. To believe that they have an equal right to everything under the sun and to fight for that for themselves and for others. I believe that as much as this is important for all of us as women, this message stands for us all, irrespective of our gender or how we identify as individuals.
On this International Women's Day, and every day, let us renew our commitment to work together and 'break the bias'.
Lise Hudson, Rector High School of Dundee