This week we celebrated International Women’s Day.

An education designed for girls and young women

The solidarity of girls’ schools of Adelaide was demonstrated through a page in Wednesday’s The Advertiser in which together we articulated the value of an education in a single-sex girls’ school, where every student:

  • Gets a seat at the table;
  • Gets the chance to lead;
  • Gets to choose her path;
  • Gets the confidence to be herself;
  • Gets an equal voice; and
  • Gets respect.

In fact, this message was shared on the pages of newspapers around the nation.

Students educated at girls’ schools have been found to enjoy higher academic achievement, higher engagement at school, better mental health, more confident sense of self, increased leadership opportunities, and greater participation and success in those subjects and pathways that might be considered non-traditional for women. Students in girls’ schools are surrounded by strong female role models. As the saying goes: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. Girls’ schools ensure that their students see constant exemplars of women’s successes, leadership, entrepreneurship, and joy in living, learning, working and serving.

Cracking the Code

The UN Women Australia’s International Women’s Day theme for 2023 is ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender equal future’. This theme focuses on equity, inclusivity, access, education and innovation in technologies and in STEM pathways and careers for women. Walford has a strong history of female students, alumnae and staff who excel in science, technologies, engineering and mathematics endeavours.

Inspiring Alumnae

Last Friday evening’s International Women’s Day Soirée, hosted by the Old Scholars’ Association, featured the music and musings of Old Scholar and outstanding jazz musician Tiffany Gaze. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tiffany ‘on the couch’ during the evening and was impressed with her stories of the excellent teaching and arts opportunities provided to her through her Walford education, and her fearless confidence to follow her creative dreams.

On Wednesday morning, students enjoyed an uplifting event organised by our student captains, Lara Tamke and Ava Morrow. We welcomed Old Scholar Hayley Pearson (1999), who is a well-known Adelaide personality for her work at Adelady and on Hello SA. Hayley’s dynamic presentation included heartening messages about the self-belief Walford instilled in her to be all she dreamed she could be, and the importance of women supporting women. The audience also enjoyed a stunning vocal duet from students Hazel Osborne and Annabelle Fleming.

Principal’s Commissioning

Today’s Commissioning ceremony was a special event that formally welcomed me into the Walford community. The week of International Women’s Day was a meaningful time to be commissioned as the ninth Principal of Walford, a school that has for 130 years supported students to be and become formidable, principled and compassionate women of determination, achievement, and action.

I will leave you with an excerpt from my Commissioning address:

“One thing I have been speaking with students about is being brave and having a go, living with authenticity and integrity, and accepting and celebrating the uniqueness of themselves and each other. Vivienne Porritt, the founder of the global organisation WomenEd, says that ‘normal is the setting on a washing machine’, implying that ‘normal’ is not a label we should apply to people.

As Marianne Williamson famously articulated,

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. … Our playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking … We are all meant to shine … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.’

I continue to encourage all our young people to shine, to grow, to take up space, and to be unapologetic in their desire to learn, live, and contribute positively to the world. A woman’s place, after all, is in the history books, at the top of her field, out in front of an audience, and in any place she dreams of being, in any role she dreams of doing, achieving anything she aims to accomplish.”


Dr Deborah Netolicky