The theme for IWD on 8th March 2022 was #BreakTheBias.
Staff and students at Golden Hillock, our women-only campus, spent IWD celebrating the achievements of women. Some gave presentations about women that inspire them, and several students gave talks about their hobbies and how they had become entrepreneurs and turned that hobby into a small business.
ESOL Tutor Aisha Ghalib’s class were given the task to write and present about a woman who inspired them and why they chose them. Some students wrote about their mother, Princess Diana, The Queen, Oprah Winfrey and many more inspiring women.
Another ESOL Tutor Marzena Miskiewicz described the brief she gave to her students: “Someone once said… ‘Live like you will die tomorrow and study like you will never die’. That’s why I believe there is always time to learn new things.
“While teaching my students about hobbies, I realised that a lot of them could actually inspire others to learn new things. We have got so many talents here among our students that we did not need to look for inspiration elsewhere.
“A few years ago I was inspired by a student that made beautiful cakes. This led me to start a new lifetime hobby. I believe in sharing and wanted my students to share their interests with others too. We had such a great day, learned so much about one another and who knows, maybe new talents were born.”
Students’ hobbies included singing, sewing, baking, crochet and making chocolate bouquets to name but a few.
In the afternoon, after an amazing buffet lunch cooked and prepared by the students, the campus welcomed Salma Zulfiqar, award-winning Birmingham artist and human rights campaigner. Salma is featured and celebrated as one of Birmingham’s most inspirational women in the book Once Upon A Time in Birmingham – Women Who Dared to Dream.
Salma regularly visits the college and works with our students on various projects, including her most recent, ARTconnects & The Migration Blanket animated short film, which acts as a show of solidarity between girls and women in Birmingham and the Commonwealth nations, calling for a greener planet and an end to violence against women. 25 of our adult female students participated in workshops, coming online with 150 young women in 17 countries to create artwork for The Migration Blanket.
Her task on IWD was to present certificates and prizes to the inaugural winners of The Bano Prize for Educational Achievement, established in the memory of Salma’s mother, who sadly passed away in 2021.
One of the last activities of the day saw Fatima Bibi’s class of younger students being introduced to women in STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths from the BAME community.
Students discovered individuals such as Mae Jamison, the first African American woman who went to space, and Dr Youmna Mouhamad, who has paved the way for printed electronics. Students said that they felt, “proud and inspired”, by these women and even suggested the names of individuals whom they found inspiring from their own communities and home countries. This pedagogical approach of ‘mirroring’ provided an element of meaningfulness to them.
The students were then set a challenge; to use the materials provided (plastic train tracks and Knex pieces) to create something that was able to move from one end of the room to the other. This task helped build communication skills, such as negotiating with team members and problem-solving. Learners understood that inventions needed to be adapted to make them better and more efficient and most importantly, that we can ALL become inventors and engineers, whoever we are and wherever we come from!
A great day was had by staff and students alike celebrating the achievements of women and International Women’s Day.