March 8th marked a momentous occasion celebrated throughout the world, International Women’s Day. Ever since 1909 when the Socialist Party of America organised the first ever Women’s Day the occasion has been celebrated around the world. At Bryn Hafren, to mark the occasion the Soroptimist International Barry and District sector organised, alongside the school, a presentation to not only empower but to teach the students of Bryn Hafren the possibilities that are available to them and that no dream is too big if you have the drive to work for it.
The presentation was opened by Mr Tyrone Davies, Head Teacher at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, as he discussed female writers and composers of the past who had to release their works under the guises of men in order to have their work published. Head Girl Charlotte Rose then took to the podium and informed her school of the opportunities she has had not just as a student but as a woman. Charlotte has been given an offer to study Medicine at Oxford University and this is largely down to the strong female influence of her science teachers within Bryn Hafren. Having strong females around her that she has looked up to made her feel like there were no barriers holding her back. Charlotte was able to deliver a truly empowering speech to her peers and one particularly remarkable point of her speech, said Pat Salt, President of the Barry and District Soroptimists, was that she “didn’t seem to have been effected by her gender in her academic career” and that this clearly displays the massive steps that have been taken in recent times for women’s rights.
Following on from this three guest speakers Hilary Fielder, Judy James and Heidi Murray spoke of their experiences as women in all manner of different vocations and places. Hilary has been responsible for the widespread introduction of screening in Wales which has no doubt saved thousands of lives over the years. Judy told her story of moving around the world from Hungary to Chile and then to America and finally Barry and how she has been able to achieve happiness in whatever circumstances she has faced on three different continents, and Heidi spoke of her work as one of only three female Prison Governors in Wales. All three speakers told stories of times when they have faced prejudices in their work places and acknowledged the fact that because of how the world has been for so long many people don’t realise that they are being sexist in the things that they do or say. However, all three were also able to marvel at the movements that were clearly starting to come to light in order to give women equal rights and empower them “to be the best [they] can be, not just as good as the boys.”
Jane Hutt AM spoke of encounters she had had with previous students of Bryn Hafren and how they have been able to achieve their goals and experience exciting careers by overcoming the boundaries set out for them by what many have perceived to have become societal normality. Jane Hutt, as well as the guest speakers all recognised the problems they have faced but came together on International Women’s Day to show Barry’s future adults that anything can be achieved with the right work ethic. A vote of thanks was given by one of Bryn Hafren’s senior prefects, Caitlyn Organ, as the students thanked the Soroptimists for what is sure to become an annual tradition celebrating women in Barry and all around the world.
Written by Lukas Wallis