International Women's Day Address

Last Updated: Sunday, 30 September 2012 Published: Wednesday, 14 March 2012 Written by Daina Wandae Eurselle Matthew

International Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8. This year one of Convent High School’s former Head Girls and present teacher, Miss Daina Matthew, gave the feature address at the Fort Young Hotel under the theme: “Connecting Girls, Engaging Families and Inspiring Future”. The Convent High would like to share her address with you the alumni, as we are proud of Ms Matthew. As an all-girl school, we continue to nurture and empower young women and we are proud to say that we have been doing so for 154 years! Let us continue to inspire the future.


You may be asking yourselves what is the key reason why I am here this evening, and why I am even involved in this recognition of International Women’s Day? Nonetheless, every young lady present here is vital in maintaining the route of independence and empowerment that past women have paved for us. March 8th marks the date for International Women’s Day, and is celebrated around the globe in commemoration of the middle class women who fought their way to be able to have the same rights and privileges as the male gender.


What this means for us aspiring women is that our actions, words and overall demeanor should emanate one of a woman who can hold her head up high in all aspects of society. NO longer can we be told that politics, law, medicine, architecture and other professions cannot be occupied by a female figure. NO longer can we be prevented from voicing our opinions on topical issues or be afraid to do so for that matter. NO longer are our roles strictly based on domestic duties, such as being a mother and a wife. And, NO longer should we be doubtful and apprehensive about our qualities and skills. Thus, in recognizing this day we celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past and present. With this in mind you can better understand the essence of your involvement in this celebration on Women’s Day and why it is important to act responsibly. Remembering, that the privilege which we hold now as young ladies was not always our right to have some years ago.


In an effort to comprehend the theme, “Connecting Girls, Engaging Families and Inspiring Future”, we must first dissect the important words mentioned. These being highlighted are connecting, engaging and inspiring. Connecting: by simply gathering our girls in events like these we have already continued in the practice of becoming a more unified group. We ARE each others sisters and becoming a positive influence on another girl’s life, lifts the boundaries that we as women are trying to strive for universally. Likewise, when we bring down and laugh at the mistakes of our fellow companions we are indirectly crippling ourselves and preventing growth from the inside-out.


Another challenge which arises, is the fascination of our young teenagers with international artists like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga and all those in that arena. They represent females who have made an influential mark in the artistic world and have shown their capability on the musical market. However, most of the time their image portrayed on stage does not display their true self behind the curtains. They often live double lives and as young girls we must always try to be the same person at home, work, school and out in the environment.

However, if by any chance we begin to lose faith in the direction we are heading, there are strong and influential women right within our Dominican boundaries to help us regain our momentum. Persons like, the late Dame Eugenia Charles (the first and only female Prime Minister in Dominica), Ophelia Marie (our Lady of Song), Pearle Christian (a cultural Icon), Tasha Peltier (First female calypso monarch), Michele Henderson (a well known vocal artist both locally and regionally) and Baroness Scotland (a Dominican who became the first black female British Government Minister), just to name a few. They have shown us that females have made their mark in society by maintaining their identity at all times.


Nonetheless, with all these key women paving the way for the young we have been faced with many shortcomings. It seems like a baby on the shoulder is becoming the new trendy style among young female teenagers. Some have lost a sense of pride and self-confidence in their abilities and have given in to peer-pressure. Some view themselves with no sense of worth and therefore act in a way reflecting that state of mind. What is right and what is wrong often becomes confusing as one by one we lose a friend to her new maternal duties. With all these challenges our moral values are being put to the test and we compromise our education, goals and aspirations. This therefore leads to the next two key terms in the theme: engaging and inspiring. Why should we engage families?


In engaging families we are better able to inspire futures that are rich in family life and connected by the bonds of love, respect, trust, faith, obedience, loyalty, and togetherness. These attributes should first begin at home and then trickle down into our private and exterior relationships. Your families are supposed to be your foundation for strength and should provide guidance for all your future endeavours. Speaking from my own experience my immediate family, that is my mom, dad and brother have played a pivotal role in my life for as long as I can remember. Their support have been enlightening and when all else have failed they were the ones to never leave my side. In cases where some families may fall short, never substitute them with persons who do not ultimately care for your well being. However, family doesn’t have to be only those in the vicinity of your home. Your school environment could and should provide a positive environment where you are able to learn not only academics but life’s lessons. From a teacher’s perspective our role goes beyond that of the classroom. All this is to say, that family MUST be included in our aim to making girls stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.


While, our families can be one source of support in our movement forward into empowerment. Our futures can be also inspired but the positive groups we involve ourselves in. Be it clubs within your schools, participation in youth activities in our church and environment or any extra-curricular activities. My involvement in the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers, my Church Youth choir and events like these have molded me into what I am now and what I hope to become in the future. Be proactive in everything that you do and always have fun.


Yet, when touching on women it would be unfair to exclude a very important part of society: the male gender. Though the theme says connecting girls it would be unbalanced if the young ladies are the only ones to develop. In our strife to empowering ourselves, the young men should move in that same direction. If they are not contributing to our growth they will ultimately become part of the problem.


All in all, International Women’ s Day accepts the strides made by past women like the late Dame Eugenia Charles and this year includes more noticeably young girls and our development into womanhood. I want us to reach a place where every school especially the secondary schools have a big sister little sister system within themselves, in that way the senior students become a guide to the younger ones. That doesn’t only create a more supportive environment but the older ones will be forced to display qualities that can be emulated. We must continue to be emphatic towards those around us and never lose sight of how we have evolved in society.


Girls let us Unite, Let us Encourage and Let us all be Inspired!


Thank You!

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