The rest of this post outlines the general shape of my address, including the videos that I used. For those who have the time and interest (which, given that it runs for some 20 minutes, I don't expect to be many), this first link is to a basic video of the assembly speech in its entirety.
Today I want to speak to you about a movement started by UN Women called HeForShe. HeForShe is a solidarity movement for gender equality that brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity for the benefit of all. Gender equality is something that matters deeply. The responsibility for ensuring justice and respect for all people rests with all people. Men ought to stand alongside women in calling for, acting for and ensuring gender equality.
For me, this conviction stands on and grows out of the first chapter of the Bible, where we read that God created men and women alike in his image. As a Christian man I have no grounds for viewing women as anything other than inherently worthy of dignity and respect. I am happy to identify myself as a feminist, if we understand a feminist as a person who agitates for and stands up for equality between men and women. I think that this position is entirely compatible with the Bible.
There are three things I want to speak with you about today wherein I have concerns, not just for us here at Inaburra School, but for the wider society in which we live and the wider world that you will create in the years to come.
The first has to do with domestic violence. My point, along with calling our young men to stand up, speak out and act to prevent domestic violence, is that violent behaviour grows out of contempt in speech and thought. It is our individual and shared responsibility to call out unacceptable behaviour against women in our school and beyond.
The second has to do with the limitations that are placed on girls, their abilities and their futures. (I only used up until the 1:29 mark for this video.) My reflections focus on the fact that these school years are largely determinative for future paths and that we must not allow our young women to be deterred from possibilities because of gender stereotyping, particularly around Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
The third has to do with the unpaid work involved in making a household work. There is a fundamental injustice represented in the fact that women still do the vast majority of unpaid work in our community. I encouraged our young women to evaluate the young men around them in light of how willing and able they are to shoulder the burden of housework and I called the young men to step up as a matter of principle.
Obviously, the above is only a skeletal outline of my address, and my address was only one small step towards gender equality in our context. Nonetheless, a journey consists of lots of little steps and I was surprised and encouraged by how meaningful this speech seemed to be to many in our Senior School.