Head Girl at Toorak College Mietta Symmons-Joyce reveals her thoughts about the importance of International Women’s Day.
What does International Women's Day mean to you and why is it so important?
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to come together as a school and celebrate what it means to be a woman in today’s world. It is a day where we can appreciate the value of girls’ education and challenge the stigmas surrounding what girls can and cannot do in our modern society. I think International Women’s Day is so important because it acts as a reminder of what we have achieved and what work needs to be done to balance gender equality.
Tell us more about the partnership with One Girl. How do we intend to help these girls?
This year, working with the School’s new Strategic Plan - Towards 150, the student body has made a motion to partner up with the Australian-led NGO One Girl. One Girl truly is an incredible organisation that has already gathered nationwide support and awareness over the years by working with schools, governments and the general public to provide educational opportunities to girls and women all across Africa.
One Girl follows the philosophy that education really can change lives. As we introduce them to our Year 3 - 11 Student Representative Council, Prefect Body and student community, we hope to bridge a relationship that enables our students to get involved as much as possible with the organisation.
One Girl and Toorak College both share a common goal - to empower young women to brave the world with the courage to change it. This year we will be committing all funds raised by student-led initiatives both in the school and wider community towards this organisation beginning with an SRC-led lunchtime sausage sizzle on International Women’s Day and more exciting events in the pipeline for Term 2!
How has your journey been so far as Head Girl? Do you enjoy being a leader? Why?
Although it has only been a matter of weeks since I’ve taken on the role of Head Girl for 2019 alongside with my deputy, Poppy Dixon, I can say with absolute certainty that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had during my time here at Toorak College. Being able to represent the school and engage with the students, staff and school community to ensure that we continue to make Toorak a truly special and forward-thinking space for the student body has been a challenging but unique opportunity.
The constant meetings and the organising of events, assemblies and publications, and now the running of the Student Representative Council have become part of my daily routine. Although time-consuming, I have grown to love every minute of it and look forward to the opportunities that being a leader in the school offers me and in turn, I can offer to the girls.
Being a leader in the Toorak College community really is such an incredible experience not only to challenge and extend yourself but to give back to the school that has already given so much to you. So for any girls aiming to take on leadership in the school, I encourage you to take on as many opportunities possible, give back to the people around you and let your spirit shine because it really is the love for the school and the Toorak community that makes your time here so rewarding.
What makes a Toorak girl so unique? What qualities do our girls possess?
This is a question that has come up so often at our Open Days, tours and school events over my time at the school - ‘what makes a Toorak girl?’ and ‘what does a Toorak girl look and act like? ’
When I first came to the school in Year 7, my immediate impression of what made a Toorak girl so ‘unique’ was the red ribbon and an immaculate uniform (and a school that kind of looked like Hogwarts). However, over time I came to realise that it wasn’t what we looked like to the wider community that made us so unique. There is no single identifier of what makes a Toorak girl, and I think that’s what makes us such a special community of young women. Our determination to strive towards our best, support those around us, make the most of the opportunities available to us and take in every ounce of spirit that makes our school the vibrant and exciting place that it is.
A Toorak Girl is not a specifically sporty or musical, academic or community-minded individual, she can be all of these qualities. But most importantly she is someone who is willing and wanting to make the most of her education and secondary school experience, empower those around her and take on every opportunity she can.