The Social Justice Group (SJG) aims to “Be the change you wish to see in the world”.
Recently the group has been exploring the issue of gender inequality, not only in the developing world but also closer to home. “The group has become an important part of Arden’s mission, vision, and values,” said Social Justice Group Prefect, Tessa Marsden, who reported that the group has grown from 14 members (2014) to over 50 members.
At a global level the SJG has continued to financially support The Good Return organisation which facilitates micro-financing to women in the developing world, helping women to ultimately raise their families out of poverty. The SJG’s bake sale proceeds enabled Arden to micro-finance a Cambodian woman named Sim Onn. Sim plans to use the money to improve the yield on her small farm through purchasing farm inputs. Once Sim has repaid the money to Good Return, the money can then be reinvested into another woman’s business venture.
More locally, the group encouraged the School’s Secondary School community to embrace the challenge to ‘Share the Dignity’. Tessa Marsden, explained: “Share The Dignity is an Australian organisation that was formed in 2015. Their founder, Rochelle Courtenay, was shocked to realise that there were thousands of women in Australia who were homeless, often due to fleeing domestic violence situations. They were forced to make difficult choices, such as whether to spend their money on essentials like shelter, food and clothing, or equally as essential, sanitary items. Share The Dignity’s work centres around the belief that sanitary items should be a right, not a privilege.”
To create awareness, Tessa Marsden spoke about ‘Share the Dignity’ not only in the SJG, but also in school assemblies. She initially found it challenging to talk about periods in front of the whole school. However, “I gained courage as it is such an important issue to talk about. I realised the greater cause was more important than my reservations around talking about a taboo subject,” said Tessa.
Arden collected sanitary items via a ‘Share The Digni-tree’ at the School’s annual Girls’ Night In. Tessa Marsden shared: “The beautiful acts of giving were matched by an equally beautiful place to collect them. Donating physical products had a different impact than financial donations; donating something real and tangible made the girls feel like they were making an instant impact on other women’s lives.” Tessa reported that this initiative was also embraced by the male students, with many Arden boys bringing in items in support of this cause. Over 200 individual standard size sanitary kits were donated in total.
Tessa concluded: “It has been fun to get involved and make a really practical and lasting difference to an issue close to our hearts.” She added “I never thought we could do this in a co-educational school and was very encouraged by the whole school’s support.” Mrs Karen Moss, Arden’s Social Justice Group Coordinator agreed: “This shows the School’s commitment to justice and compassion for all and to see justice as gender non-specific. It was great to see a local initiative having an immediate impact on our wider community.”
Other gender inequality issues discussed during in the SJG this year have included third world issues; such as child marriages, the lack of education regarding maternal health and the unemployment rate of women; as well as first-world issues, like the dominance in American business of male company CEOs.