The empowerment of girls and women has long been a key value of Alexandra College. Since our inception in 1866, our school and its students have been striving for women’s equality, from the actions of prominent suffragettes and alumnae such as Kathleen Lynn and Helen Chenevix over 100 years ago, to women in sport such as hockey World Cup finalists Emily Beatty, Deirdre Duke, and Nikki Evans representing Ireland on the world stage.

The recognition of equal rights of women in society is fundamental. However, it is the readiness of society to include women in equals roles that is not only important for the young women who are now growing up and dreaming of their futures, but for the contributions that these women can make to improve all of our lives.

The theme of this years’ International Women’s Day is #BalanceforBetter and it is at the core of what we are trying to achieve. At Alexandra College, we give our students the tools to excel, but opportunities, representation, and recognition are essential in cementing women as capable and equal counterparts in society and the working world.

Women’s sport is arguably seen by society as inferior to that of men’s, evident in the lesser funding and sponsorship it receives across the world. However, just last August, the nation of Ireland was inspired by 19 young women who took the world of sport by storm. When the Irish Women’s Hockey Team gained their place in the 2018 Hockey World Cup, there was little fanfare. Where our fantastic sportsmen in football and rugby have been rightfully recognised for their achievements, there was muted celebration in the media for the women’s hockey world cup qualification. This all changed once the women’s hockey team began to make history.

Their unprecedented performance captivated our nation. Our TV screens and radio waves were occupied by each new goal and latest win. Together we celebrated and took pride in countrywomen. For Ireland, it was no longer a women’s sporting event. It was just a sporting event – one that will be etched in to our memories for years to come.

The young women on this hockey team showed how the enthusiasm of a nation to celebrate and reward hard work. They were given the opportunity to represent our country, and society began recognising their hard-won achievements.

We are thankful that here in Ireland women’s rights have come a long way, but we are keenly aware that without opportunities, representation, and recognition, generations of women will not be able to engage with society and work together to make an even brighter, stronger future for us all. From the sportsground to the workplace, from our boardrooms and to our TV screens, if we #BalanceforBetter, anything is possible.

For more information on #BalanceforBetter and International Women’s Day click here