National Council of Women Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch is working with Christchurch Girls High School (CGHS) around the idea of setting up an affiliated youth branch at the school. CGHS senior students have already been active in supporting issues that affect young women, in particular, around issues of sexual harassment. This call to action came about as a result of the 2021 survey that was carried out at the school by researcher, Dr Liz Gordon of Pūkeko Research Ltd (download the .pdf file of the report here). The responses to the survey showed that there was significant, ongoing sexual harassment being experienced by the majority of students of all ages at the school.
Senior students at CGHS have since set up a group called SASH (Students Against Sexual Harm) which operates both in their school and in some other Canterbury schools.
The students, led by Head Prefect Hawwa Niyaz and Deputy Head Prefect, Hope Anderson-Gardner, and with the support of the Principal and the Deputy Principal, are keen to work with NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch to continue to campaign for gender equality and for safer communities for young women and girls.
In late September, Rosemary Du Plessis, NCWNZ Ōtautahi Christchurch Branch President, Louise Tapper and Zoe Cummins (Organising Committee members) met with a group of 25 students from CGHS and talked with them about the work that NCWNZ did, locally and nationally, and the kind of projects that we were working on, such as the Young Women and COVID19 project.
They discussed the process for becoming a NCWNZ affiliated group and brainstormed with the students what they might want to focus on as a group. The students were interested in the campaign to advocate for the compulsory teaching of consent in all schools and had ideas for promoting this.
The conversations are continuing and the process for setting up such a group is well underway, albeit slightly stalled by the time of year, with exams approaching for senior students.