On November 24th, students from JFS, Notting Hill and Ealing High, RMS Rickmansworth and the host school, Northwood College, came together for an afternoon seminar. They were introduced to the Bill of Rights for Women and Girls which the UK Government signed up to 28 years ago.
This legislation, known as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women(CEDAW) incorporates the essentials at the heart of NCW- equality ”in dignity and rights without distinction of any kind, including distinction based on sex.” To the girls, as to most people, CEDAW’s very existence was unknown until, that is, Monica Tolman enlightened them about its content and challenge.
Soon the room was buzzing with excitement as the students looked at the first 16 articles of the Convention. How far had they been realised? Animate conversation, allied to dramatic hand gestures, took over and later feedback comments proved how successfully the girls had absorbed the articles’ contents and gone on to assess accurately how far they had been properly implemented.
A diagram made clear the necessary steps to effecting change. This so logical progression is not always easy to implement, but it does represent the way to progress a campaign.
The last part of the programme gave groups the chance to share issues they think the UK Government should address bore its next official review, due in two years’ time. These included:
*Encouraging men to speak up for gender equality.
*A change in the way the Media represent women.
*Transgender to be accepted positively.
*PSHE to be a mandatory foundation subject across the age range and in all types of schools.
*Legislation (enforceable and enforced) to protect against the insidious effects of pornography.
There was also discussion about the way in which women are adversely affected by career breaks to care for a family, the gender bias seen in toys, including how they are advertised and the crucial importance of good role models.
An aspect of the event that was highly rated was the opportunity it gave the NCYWers to meet each other. NCYW’s impact is felt beyond one local school. There is tremendous scope for working together and spreading the CEDAW message that was clear. ”Go for it!”