This year's theme for 'International Women's Day 2020' is collective individualism. Individually, we are all responsible for our thoughts and actions, all day every day but each individual is part of a collective whole. COLLECTIVELY each one of us can create a gender equal world.
This week some of my amazing group of fun, fearless female TOG student ambassadors are striking the #EachforEqual pose and sharing their experiences of being part TOG, as an empowering platform for women!
‘As a TOG ambassador, I have found community, support, encouragement, and inspiration as is only possible when a group of like-minded and forward thinking individuals come together. Not only is TOG a resource which is provided by students for students, it is a resource which stretches beyond our own experiences to provide support for all that wish to come to Oxford and better themselves personally. As a historian, the experiences and labor of women has been and will continue to be crucial to the development of a more inclusive world. That is why being an ambassador for TOG and collaborating on this campaign has been so fulfilling.”
'Being a part of TOG has been empowering for me as a woman because I am surrounded by amazing women who are incredibly intelligent, work hard to be where they are, and stand strong in the face of adversities. We all have our struggles—perhaps it’s the struggles of being a woman in life, in Oxford, in our fields, in our areas of study, etc. Or maybe it’s the struggles we are facing alongside being a woman. So many TOG ambassadors have written vulnerably and deeply about different mental health struggles, academic struggles, etc. TOG ambassadors have the unique privilege to share both their highs and lows with others, especially other women. As someone who is a visiting student for a term, I am glad to be one of these women even though my time with TOG has been short.'
'I think TOG is great because it’s a way for girls and young women to see resources through someone else’s eyes, but still be able to relate. TOG gives an empowering statement by giving pupils a perspective of uni through variations of experiences. I, myself, am extremely proud to be part of TOG and enable others to see the world of Oxford through my eyes and maybe teach them a thing or two.'
‘Meraki (n): To do something with soul, creativity, and love; to leave a piece of yourself in your work. There is nothing more empowering than loving what you do and seeing the positive effect it can have on people. Not only have I had the privilege to meet some incredible and inspiring women through TOG, but it has also given us the opportunity to pour a bit of ourselves and our experiences into the world. It is truly empowering every day to see the impact this has had on so many students!’
'I really enjoy getting to meet students from across the uni - it means I get to talk to women with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. It’s made me realise that I can help pass on knowledge to other women, just as other women have to me. I really enjoy these conversations - they’re a real highlight for me at TOG!'
'Being a TOG ambassador gave me another place in Oxford where I felt like I could really belong. While Oxford's structure is designed to involve a student in as many various groups as possible - like your college, your cohort, your department, your MCR or JCR, your scholarship group etc - sometimes it might feel overwhelming and like you don't belong anyway, because "everyone is smarter and better than me". TOG doesn't feel that way; it unites women and allows us to inspire each other. TOG is an inclusive space for female students and being a part of it makes you feel like you can achieve anything, and like we women are in this together! TOG doesn't exclude, it invites. It encouraged me to inspire other women to try for Oxford, to study, learn, aim high - to be their best self.'
'I think TOG is empowering for young women looking to come to oxford as it provides them with a platform that supports them and enforces the message that they are worthy and deserve the opportunity as much as anyone else. Being part of TOG has really inspired me, as I feel I’m able to make a real difference and it’s such a positive force of female empowerment and enablement. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of TOG because the feedback you get from students, particularly prospective ones, is so rewarding and it’s amazing to know that your words can help make such a real difference.'
Coming to Oxford from a state school, I saw first-hand the challenges that can be faced, and how different factors, such as gender, background and disability can be seen as a barrier to applying. Working with TOG has been fantastic as it is a platform that is trying to break down these barriers. Meeting other female students studying a variety of subjects and from different backgrounds creates a unique network, all wanting to improve access and outreach. While everyone’s application process is different, with some facing more difficulties than others, TOG is showing that there is a place here for everyone and empowering women to apply. Photos by: @periheaton @kcamille_photgraphy