Heidi McCafferty from our fundraising team represented the Friends of Ibba Girls’ School at ‘Courage Calls!’ on Saturday 30 November. This was the annual conference organised by the Fawcett Society, the UK's leading charity campaigning for gender equality and women's rights. Heidi was there to raise awareness of the charity and the school, and to sell merchandise (also available in our online shop). Particular thanks to Professor Jacqueline Baxter from The Open University, who is a Trustee of the Fawcett Society and invited Heidi to attend the event to showcase FIGS. Read a snapshot of Heidi’s day below…
The event was busy, and the fantastic venue and layout meant there was a continuous flow of people as they headed for sessions and refreshments. The support for Ibba Girls’ School was humbling. I have attended hundreds of events throughout my career, but never have I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of such energised, passionate, supportive individuals.
I met some exceptionally engaging delegates, including representatives from the Women’s Environmental Network, 9 2 3 Recruitment and 50:50 Parliament. High-profile figures such as Amber Rudd and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown were also there. But one of the highlights of the event for me was a conversation I had with a woman who told me about a residential school for orphaned boys which her family had built in Kashmir. Her father had worked tirelessly to run the school, and the responsibility was soon going to move to her. She told me of her plans to open an equivalent for girls and of her exciting vision for its development, including a health centre which she hopes her son will run, as he is training in the UK to become a doctor. She explained the challenges of promoting girls’ education and her commitment to the rights of women and girls.
Raising awareness of the importance of girls’ education within many cultures is challenging, but events like Saturday’s offers a little reminder of the thousands of people out there working hard to fight perceptions. I was proud to be representing Friends of Ibba Girls’ School, a charity which passionately promotes the rights of women and girls and the opportunities available to them. It was a genuine pleasure to share the story of the school’s co-founder, Bridget Nagomoro, who had been the only girl in Ibba to have an education beyond the age of 10, and of her dream to open a school for girls. Ibba Girls’ School now educates 220 girls, with a further 40 joining in February when the new school year starts. The students will go on to leadership roles in government, business and the community and help lead the world's newest nation to peace and prosperity.
Ibba Girls’ School graduates will also be showcasing feminism – promoting equality for all, and focusing especially on those who are most marginalised in society – and a grass-roots approach to international development, in which education and empowerment are culturally appropriate, rippling out from the community not trickling down from an imposing or distant elite. We look forward therefore to deepening our relationship with the Fawcett Society.