Head’s Tale – Exercising Your Voice

The past two weeks have been very busy at St. Margaret’s. We celebrated the International Day of the Girl, invited our moms to join their Middle Years’ daughters in celebrating girl power, and listened to Brie Mathers talk to both students and parents about the importance of “Learning to Love the Skin You’re In.”  Brie talked a lot about the impact social media has on self-esteem and the importance of helping our girls own their strengths, develop their voice, and believe they can accomplish amazing things.  This is the second time Brie has visited SMS and the girls were most appreciative of her message as described in the feedback noted below:

Middle Years:

“It made me realize that no one is perfect, to love yourself for who you are and not who you want to be.  I will now look in the mirror and love myself for me.”

“This presentation made me feel much more powerful and strong as a girl.  I am going to go home, stand tall, and be proud of who I am.”

Senior Years:
“I got inspired. Girls can be what they want to be.  Everyone is equal. “

“I liked that you told us about ways to define ourselves.  That even though others define us one way, the only opinion that matters is ours.”

In addition, a group of girls in Social Studies 11 were invited to the Legislature to celebrate 100 Years of Women and the Vote.  This celebration is also part of the launch of Equal Voice’s Daughters of the Vote – a national program that encourages young women to become familiar with political institutions and inspired to participate in public life.  Being in Ottawa last week, I was able to view the Let Them Howl:  100 Years of Women’s Suffrage exhibit, highlighting women who made significant contributions to the goals of equality and social justice over the past 100 years. The photos provide a snapshot of those women involved in the feminist movement, from its roots in the early 1900s to the recent accomplishments of women as they exercise their voices.  These women represent only a fraction of those individuals who have been part of a larger process of slow incremental change in the way society values the contribution of women in society, politics, and business.  I say “slow” as we continue to challenge society’s view of appropriate gender representation in a number of careers and to open doors in areas where women have traditionally been under-represented.

It is unfortunate that there is still a dearth of stories in the historical record that highlight the many ways women have influenced history.  In many instances, their contributions are referenced in supporting roles or as “side stories.” For example, during the war, women were not allowed to enlist and fight on the front lines. They did, however, make significant contributions by filling positions that previously were occupied by men – on the farms, in factories, and in hospitals.  They also played an active role in recruiting and supporting soldiers, selling war bonds, fundraising, and volunteering their services when called upon.

Regardless of the challenges faced by women over the past 100 years in Canada, there is a heightened awareness of the importance of the collective conversation inclusive of equal voice and representation.  Hence, the importance of finding, developing, and exercising “voice” – something that is definitely nurtured at SMS.

At SMS, we encourage the girls to exercise their voice by:
• Being confident in themselves.
• Being confident in their ability to advocate for self and others.
• Being confident in expanding and challenging the definition of women’s work.
• Being confident and willing to share their talents in a broader arena that serves a broader audience.

We know that finding your voice requires you to know who you are and to define your success “on your terms.”  We also know that the capacity to advocate for self and others requires you to be authentic, emphatic, and clear in purpose.  The ability to find ways to connect with others will create a community of support and agency.  That is how empowering others to make a difference can create a movement!

Our girls need to be open to possibilities and to push back perceived barriers that say girls “can’t do something because….” Finally, we want our girls to consider the importance of contributing to the greater good by involving themselves in causes or careers that have a real impact on individuals and on communities within Canada and abroad.

“Women are going to form a chain, a greater sisterhood than the world has ever known.”
Nellie McClung, 1916





Video “Dear 20 year old me” www.daughtersofthevote.ca
Victoria Historian Leads National Campaign to get Women on Banknotes www.timescolonist.com/news/local…

Portraits:  Canadian Women in Focus. Barbara Woodley. 1992

A Greater Sisterhood:  The Women’s Rights Struggle in Canada. Canadian Heritage – Display of Portraits on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

P.S.  Please also check this link that claims “Victoria is the best place in Canada to be a woman”