This letter, written on the 8th of March, is dedicated to the women out there. Every year, on this date, we take a moment to applaud the role of women in our society. Although, the simple fact that we need to dedicate a day to women speaks volumes about how far we still are from a truly egalitarian society.
I have written it before, but it deserves to be written again – working towards equality is not something that can be done in one day alone, it is something that we should work on daily. I use the word work intentionally: nothing can be achieved without a conscious, consolidated effort. School has an enormous role to play.
This afternoon, I attended the junior classes International Women’s Day assembly and listened to the fascinating impressions and heartfelt opinions of our CE1 to CM2 students as they presented the gender stereotypes and dichotomies they encounter every day: blue vs pink, football vs. dance, dolls vs. robots, I’ll stop there because you are as familiar with them as I am.
I also had the pleasure of seeing our secondary students prepare for today by organising an exhibition of the women who matter to them. I’d like to thank Anne from Terminale for coming up with the idea, which had the full support of our Lycée Student Council (CVL). On the subject of the CVL, its members met with Mr Valéry from the AEFE on Tuesday; six motivated, committed and intelligent girls from 3ème to Terminale who serve as an excellent model of our school. As I listened to them, I was full of hope for the future because it is impossible to imagine any glass ceiling holding them back.
As for me, years of considering the question of equality between men and women on a professional level has led me, somewhat paradoxically though it may seem, to recruit more male teachers in primary school. A school cannot be a place that on the one hand preaches equality between the sexes, and on the other perpetuates the stereotype that the education of young children is something best left to women.
We will never reach an egalitarian utopia if we continue to insist on women having particular qualities that mean they are better suited to certain jobs rather than others, or by putting women on pedestals, idealising them as mythical, untouchable creatures – an attitude that prevents women from gaining access to work in manual professions. Our role as educators is to offer equality, not only in the way we treat our male and female students, but also in the opportunities we offer them: to tirelessly demonstrate that there is no reason why two six-year olds, a boy and a girl, cannot play the same games with the same toys, like the same stories, and dream of growing up and working in the same professions.
Returning to the members of our Lycée Student Council, when I see them thinking, debating, presenting, getting involved and taking control of their destinies, I am serene about the future and I find myself dreaming of the world when they will be the bosses, the decision-makers and the champions. I truly believe that in that world, we will all be happier, men and women alike.