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The Charter School

North Dulwich

International Women's Day

Huge thanks to Jo Brand who organised this fantastic day

Huge thanks to Jo Brand who  assembled the most marvellous array of inspirational women to speak to our young people on International Women's Day - Friday 8 March. 

  • Jo Brand – Comedian
  • Camilla Batmangeilidh – founder the Kid’s company
  • Fiona Millar – journalist
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy – Human Rights Lawyer
  • Maggie Aderin Pocock – space scientist
  • Fiona Day – Producer Radio 2
  • Julie Bentley – Chief Executive of the Girl Guides
  • Jackie Ross – consultant
  • Helen Staniland – senior computing analyst
  • Bex Brand – TV and film production.


Here is a report from Amber Rogers in Year 12 on her thoughts for the day. International Women’s Day at The Charter School.  Last Friday (8th March 2013) The Charter School was honoured to play host to ten inspirational women in high-profile careers – all sourced by comedian Jo Brand. We had an impressive array of women from fields such as charity, journalism, law, space science, gynaecology, comedy, psychiatric nursing, radio production, media and computer careers – all of whom had motivating and powerful stories about their careers to share with us.


The common message of each of the speakers was that, though it may seem that the fight for gender equality is coming to satisfactory completion – the figures tell a very different tale. Women still don’t earn the same wage as a man for doing the exact same work; the majority of high-profile, high-earning jobs are still done by men and this seems to be down to the fact that pregnancy and maternity leave put your career, at least, on hold. A compelling message from Fiona Millar (journalist) was that women have spent decades fighting for equality, but now a rise in paternity leave is needed to make the next step. Unfortunately the choice to start a family comes hand-in-hand with the choice to let you career plateau for a while - a dilemma still faced predominantly by women. 


Comedian and Charter mum Jo Brand hosted the event, and ended it with her own career stories. Having worked as a psychiatric nurse at the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, before stepping onto the comedy stage, she had some exciting and humorous anecdotes to share with us and valued pointers on how not to let a disgruntled audience stop you doing what you love in life. Needless to say – she left this audience enthralled and highly amused.


CEO of the Girl Guides Julie Bently enlightened us to the fact that 2/3 ‘women in the lead’ had been members of girl guides – not surprising when you think that the organisation has 500,000 girls involved with them, and a new member enrols with them each hour!


Bex Brand opened our eyes to the world of media, and what an exciting world it is that she belongs to. It was clear however that in many areas of media women are greatly underappreciated, which according to Bex is down to the fact that men are a lot more willing to ‘blow their own trumpet’. Camera departments are averagely 4% women, and you’ll find only 2% of the sound departments are female.


Space scientist Maggie Aderin Pocock, and consultant gynaecologist (and Charter mum) Jackie Ross showed the pupils how far a science degree (and doctorate) can take you, and top criminal lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, hilariously quotes as representing “women and other criminals”, had some powerful messages about how novel gender equality is in law, as well as homosexuality and race discrimination laws. An eye opening fact form Helena was that in 1974, Chambers would state: “we don’t take women”, triggering the sneaky establishment of a female chambers by Helena.


Some shocking statistics from Helena; 68% of women in prison have experienced some form of sexual violence, and 64% have experienced battering. This brings me to the powerful stories from Camilla Batmangeilidh, founder of the charities Kid’s Company, and Place to Be. In her experience with youth crime, Camilla finds that it rarely comes from an active decision to commit crime, but through desperation, and the need to prove themselves to the people that they grow to see as family. With a shocking 1.5 million children maltreated in Britain, Camilla’s 30 years of experience working with young people as a psychotherapist, and  her campaigns for government acknowledgement and political understanding of the vulnerability of today’s young people seem vital, and her talk struck a chord with everyone who was there to hear her heart-breaking stories.


Unfortunately I was unable to attend the talks given by Fiona Day (Raido 2 producer) and Helen Staniland (senior computer analyst), but comments from those who were lucky enough to hear hem talk have spoken very highly of both speakers.


Videos of each of our speakers will be available on the Charter School website shortly.










The amazing line up was as follows: fiona millar addressing year 11

  • Jo Brand – Comedian
  • Camilla Batmangeilidh – founder the Kid’s company
  • Fiona Millar – Journalist
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy – Human Rights Lawyer
  • Maggie Aderin Pocock – Space Scientist
  • Fiona Day – Producer Radio 2
  • Julie Bentley – Chief Executive of the Girl Guides
  • Jackie Ross – Consultant Gynaecologist
  • Helen Staniland – Senior Computing Analyst
  • Bex Brand – TV and film production.



To add to the fun – a group of Year 7 students were BBC School reporters for the day interviewing the guests and posting copy on the BBC website - here is the link

 year 7 researching the guests for  BBC School report

A group of Year 11 media studies students also had their filmed interview with Jo Brand aired on BBC London News on the day.


Jo Brand who organised the event outlined the reasoning behind the event, “it is so important that we don’t forget how important it is for girls to achieve to their highest potential. But we also understand the role that boys have in understanding the needs of women at work particularly when juggling a family.  More than 40 years after the Equal Pay act – women are still paid less than men in many industries.”


“This was truly an extraordinary day.  The messages these amazing women gave to our young people struck many chords.  As a school we can’t thank Jo enough for organising such a spectacular group of inspirational women.”