From 9th – 14th May, eight students in Year 10 attended the Global Classrooms International Model United Nations Conference in New York. The students were Afsana Abedin 10RA, Mahreen Chaiwalla 10E, Saraah Jahan 10M, Jessica Sidratul 10M, Sadia Kamaly 10Y, Nada Takkal El Ghaibouz 10R, Nusrath Uddin 10M and Motahara Zanath 10E.
On 21st – 23rd April 2017, Mulberry School For Girls hosted our first ever residential girls’ leadership development programme, Girl Leading, in support of Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn campaign. Developed by our Women’s Education Officer, Holly Green, Girl Leading offered 65 girls attending secondary state schools in London and Somerset the chance to develop their leadership potential.
Mulberry was fortunate to be invited to participate in the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival again this year.
WOW Festival is an annual week-long event which celebrates the lives and achievements of women and girls all over the world, giving women’s voices a platform and placing the issues that affect them front and centre.
On Thursday 16th February, Mulberry had the tremendous honour of hosting a visit from Tina Tchen, internationally renowned lawyer and former Chief of Staff to former First Lady Michelle Obama. Following two days of sight-seeing in London with Mulberry students and staff, Ms Tchen delivered our second annual Education Lecture at the Royal Society of Arts.
Safe, Sustainable Seas
On 13th and 14th December, Mulberry hosted London state schools and international schools for the first of our two annual Model United Nations conferences. This year’s winter conference focused on the theme of safe, sustainable seas, includingtopics such as maritime piracy, marine litter and climate change. Within the MUN programme, students are able to learn about the structure and functions of the United Nations through assuming the roles of UN council members. Students are allocated to countries in advance, and are expected to spend considerable time researching their country’s stance on the conference topic. Students also undertake training on the processes and procedures of UN committees. On the day of the conference, students are required to engage in fast-paced, often intense debates with council members representing other countries. They must represent the opinions of their allocated country, even if these opinions do not align with their personal attitude towards the conference topic. MUN provides a stimulating atmosphere in which students are challenged to hone their research, debate and presentation skills, and to thoroughly understand crucial aspects of international politics and diplomacy.
Our MulberryTalks programme was relaunched for this academic year on Wednesday November 30th, led by guest speaker Ruth-Anne Lenga, Head of Academic Programmes at the UCL Centre for Holocaust Education.
MulberryTalks are interactive seminars designed to bring our school community together in lively intellectual debate. Speakers give a presentation on a topic of their choice, followed by a Q&A session in which students and staff alike are encouraged to participate as actively as possible.
Ruth-Anne Lenga gave a fascinatingpresentation of the life of Dr JanuszKorczak. Korczak is widely recognised asa pioneer of children’s rights. He ran anorphanage in Poland in the early twentiethcentury where his charges were treatedwith the utmost respect and kindness:Korczak placed the rights of the child at the forefront of his practice, drawing up a set of principles which recognised a child’s right to dignity, respect, love and fairness. He instituted a children’s court run by children at his orphanage, where their peers and the adults entrusted with their care could be brought to trial in the event of an injustice. He had a visionary perspective on children who misbehaved or engaged in antisocial or delinquent behaviour, insisting that no child should be branded a lost cause on the basis of his actions. In particular, he recognised a child’s right to be treated with respect, and said that children ‘are not people of tomorrow, but people of today’: a child is valuable, important, and worthy of respect and dignity at all times, not just when they reach adulthood. When the Nazis invaded Poland during the Second World War, and the orphanage was relocated to the Jewish ghetto, Korczak worked against appalling conditions to ensure that the children in his care had their basic needs provided for as far as was possible, and continued to be treated with love and kindness. Despite efforts by his supporters to rescue him from transportation to the Nazi death camps, Korczak refused to leave his children, and was eventually taken to his death in the gas chambers with 250 orphans. Ruth-Anne Lenga traced the legacy of Korczak’s vision to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is underpinned by many of the principles Korczak first articulated. She also showed how Korczak’s principles have influenced the most progressive modern thinking on teaching and caring for children, relating this directly to the kind of teaching and learning we practise at Mulberry. As our Citizenship students begin learning about human rights, and our MUN delegates prepare to debate the treatment of refugee children at the Safe, Sustainable Seas conference, this year’s inaugural MulberryTalk was a rich resource indeed. We would like to thank Ruth-Anne Lenga and the Holocaust Education Centre at UCL for a wonderful start to this year’s MulberryTalks programme.
Mulberry is proud to carry forward the work of Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn campaign in the UK; and, on Tuesday 11th October, our relationship with the current First Lady of the United States continued as we were the UK host for the first ever global Skype conversation between school girls across the world and the education activists working alongside them, an event organised by Glamour Magazine.
Students from Mulberry and Elizabeth Garret Anderson school gathered in the Mulberry and Bigland Green theatre for this historic event. The programme began with a Q&A with British actress Ruth Wilson, who talked frankly and with great passion about the need for complex female roles, the importance of tackling sexism in the arts and performance industry, and the importance of helping all girls to develop confidence and a strong sense of self – an area in which schools are a particularly important resource for young women.
The Skype call then went live, and we were able to connect with girls in Tanzania, Cambodia, Peru and Washington DC. After a round of introductions, we listened to an interview between Michelle Obama and the actress and activist Yara Shahidi, hosted by Cindi Leive, Editor in Chief of Glamour Magazine. Mrs Obama was typically inspiring, revisiting the themes of the speech she gave at Mulberry when launching her Let Girls Learn campaign in the UK: she reinforced the transformative power of education in a girl’s life and the lives of her family and community; she stressed the importance of girls currently in education using the platforms and opportunities they are given to advocate on behalf of their sisters around the world who are currently denied access to such an education; and she placed great emphasis on the need for women and girls to support one another, saying ‘We can all rise together. We have to be a team of women and girls who love each other’. Yara Shahidi, herself applying for university places in the US, reflected on the difficulty of maintaining self-confidence when the world tells girls to know their place. She stressed to girls listening that they are ‘allowed to take up space’, and that they should resist the patriarchal interpretation of their confidence as unseemly aggression – a message the First Lady enthusiastically seconded.
After this interview, girls around the world were given a voice, placed at the forefront of this essential conversation. One student from each country gave a short speech about the importance of education for herself and her peers and the challenges unique to their situation. It is hard to put into words how it felt to see and hear our sisters around the world, to listen to them as they reflected on the role that school plays in their lives. It was one of the most powerful moments in Mulberry’s long history of pioneering women’s education.
Our own Ayesha Begum, 12GW, spoke on behalf of girls at school in the UK. Ayesha gave a speech that she had written herself, in which she reflected on the challenges that face girls at school in areas like ours, where socio-economic deprivation is a significant barrier to success. Without flinching from the very real obstacles that stand in the way of UK girls from the most disadvantaged communities, Ayesha also celebrated the good fortune enjoyed by UK girls, who have high-quality state-funded education available to them from ages 5-18. Ayesha represented the determination of all of her peers to be a force for good in the world when she said that girls in the UK have a responsibility to fight for their sisters around the world who are denied the chance to go to school. She outlined the work that Mulberry is doing in support of Let Girls Learn, and asked Mrs Obama ‘Is this what you had in mind when you visited our school?’ The Former First Lady’s answer? A resounding ‘Yes!’
We are once again honoured to join Michelle Obama and her team in the fight for girls’ rights across the world, and incredibly proud of the energy and determination of our students as they rise to the challenge of ensuring that every girl has the chance to go to school. The US Presidency is changing hands against a backdrop of global uncertainty – but our students, and the global community of girls at school of whom they form a part, continue to inspire us with hope for the future. Mrs Obama is preparing to hand over her post as First Lady of the United States, but will continue to be an advocate for girls’ education after she has left the White House – and we will continue to support her and this, her crucially important cause, in the UK.
Mulberry has been working in partnership with The Female Lead, an organisation who are striving to provide a more diverse range of female role models for girls and young women.
On Tuesday 3rd May, we participated in a short film The Female Lead made to raise awareness of why girls themselves want access to a broader range of role models. Mulberry girls from Years 9, 10 and 11 were asked their opinions on which women mainstream media chooses to platform, and why; who their own role models are, and whether they feel those role models get enough positive media attention; and why they think role models are important.
Students talked about a range of issues, including the way that women’s bodies are over-sexualised by the media, and their achievements and intellect underplayed; and the way in which female athletes and intellectuals are not given as much attention as actresses, singers and TV stars.
Ayesha Begum 11L, Anika Chowdhury 10L, Moriom Abdin 10Y, and Shaima Begum 9E gave mature and insightful answers to all of the interview questions, helping to create a film that gets right to the heart of this issue.
On Wednesday 8th June, three of our incoming Year 9 prefects were invited to attend a panel event hosted by The Female Lead at the offices of the ad tech company Unruly on Princelet Street, E1. Hosted by Bea Appleby, Editor at The Female Lead, the panel discussed the importance of role modelling in the lives of young women, the current lack of a diverse range of role models drawn from different career sectors and life backgrounds, and the likely positive impacts of raising a generation of girls who have regular access to a range of inspiring female role models. Our Head Teacher Dr Vanessa Ogden spoke on the panel, advocating for the importance of role models who reflect girls’ specific backgrounds: she said that role modelling is most effective when a girl’s role models come from an ethnic, cultural and/or socio-economic background similar to her own, because that provides her with clear proof that she can be successful.
Our newly elected Head Prefect of the Lower School, Mahreen Chaiwalla 9E, joined the panel in the second half of the event to give her own perspective on the importance of role models to young women, and how her own role models have enriched her life.
Our thanks go to The Female Lead for platforming the voices of Mulberry girls and championing girls’ right to a successful and happy future!
From 9th – 13th May, eight students in Year 9 attended the Global Classrooms International Model United Nations Conference in New York. Shazia Anjoom 10M, Farzana Aktar 10L, Rifat Khadijah 10U, Nafeesah Hussain 10L, Roda Ibrahim 10L, Nasima Akthar 10U, Habibah Begum Ali 10L and Taznina Choudhury 10B represented the UK at this prestigious international event.
The students were allocated Honduras as their delegate country. In the run up to the conference, they carried out extensive research on Honduras’ stance on major political and socio-economic issues, thoroughly immersing themselves in the diplomatic context of the country. During the conference itself, they played the role of UN ambassadors in a simulated diplomatic context, taking part in challenging debates with international delegates representing other countries and attempting to reach effective resolutions with other countries and groups of countries.
Whilst in New York, they explored the city’s rich cultural and artistic life. Students visited key cultural and heritage sites including the Rockefeller Centre, the Statue of Liberty, the Museum of the American Indian, and a city bus tour.
Mulberry is the lead UK school for the United Nations Global Classrooms Project, and delivers one of the most extensive Model United Nations Programmes in the country. The second of our two annual conferences for London schools and international schools took place on the 12th and 13th July.
This year’s summer conference focused on the theme of global health, drawing together key global public health issues such as child and infant health and mortality, disease epidemics and mental health.
Within the MUN programme, students are able to learn about the structure and functions of the United Nations through assuming the roles of UN council members. Students are allocated to countries in advance, and are expected to spend considerable time researching their country’s stance on the conference topic. Students also undertake training on the processes and procedures of UN committees. On the day of the conference, students are required to engage in fast-paced, often intense debates with council members representing other countries. They must represent the opinions of their allocated country, even if these opinions do not align with their personal attitude towards the conference topic.
MUN provides a stimulating atmosphere in which students are challenged to hone their research, debate and presentation skills, and to thoroughly understand crucial aspects of international politics and diplomacy.
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