Gender Equality: The State of the World’s Mothers

On Tuesday 11/4 I represented the UK in a panel debate, in front of a mixed audience of 1200 international school leaders, about women in leadership. I had the pleasure and the privilege of being on this leadership panel at #uLead17, chaired by Carol Campbell (Canada/ Scotland), alongside Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Gillian Hamilton (Scotland), Shelley Magnusson (Canada) and Jane Danvers (Australia).

We had launched @WomenEdCanada at the preconference on Sunday 9/4 with 100 delegates. This was an opportunity to amplify the discussions to a larger, mixed audience and take the discussions to the next level.

In our preparation for the panel I had discovered that our panel was composed of all white women and I had expressed my concerns and challenged the organisers to include more diversity. Pasi Sahlberg was invited to join us as a #HeForShe champion as at #uLead15 he had been disgruntled at finding himself on an all male panel so he had given his seat up for a woman in the audience.

Unfortunately, a diverse voice was not found to join us, but we have raised this as a target for the event organisers for their next event and we did discuss diversity as part of the wider debate around Inclusion & representation on this panel and others – it was a recurring theme in fact.

In our opening position statements, Pasi shared some interesting data with us to ensure that everyone in the audience recognised gender quality as a human issue and not a women’s issue. He explained the Mothers’ Index and asked us all to guess where we would place our own country when considering the political empowerment of women and the quality of motherhood around the world.

Many of us were not familiar with the Save the Children’s  ‘State of the World’s Mothers report’ (SOWM) which is an annual global report compiling statistics on the health of mothers and children. The report produces an annual ranking of more than 170 countries, showing where mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships.

The Scandinavian countries have dominated the top 3 spots in the world rankings since the report was launched in 2000, Norway was number 1 in 2012/13/15 but the 2014 report which Pasi referred to had ranked Finland as the number one place to be a mother with Somalia ranking as the worst place in the world to be a mother at 178th.

mothers index 2015

The following maps on governmental seats and income may be of interest:

Many of the audience were not surprised that the USA was relatively low, but the British and Canadian delegates anticipated we would be a little higher than we were!

The data framed our reflections and dialogue around the context, challenges and solutions facing women leading in education, and emphasised that by removing the glass ceiling, by empowering women, by striving for gender equality & social equity, that we all benefit.

At the end of the discussion the panel asked everyone at #uLead17 to make a #pledgeforparity. This was a powerful way to involve everyone and ensure that we all intentionally do our bit to affect change for all, to improve our school system & to ultimately impact our society.

Check them out on Twitter.

Hannah, The Hopeful Headteacher

Currently feeling hopeful about:

  • A very receptive mixed audience of 1200 global educational leaders all recognising and committing to #beboldforchange.

Currently reading and thinking about:

  • I am still going through all of the #pledgeforparity #uLead17 #womened tweets!

Currently feeling grateful for:

  • Jeff Johnson, ATA, inviting me to join #uLead17 and Carol Campbell doing a brilliant job of chairing the keynote leadership panel.

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