Students’ Association president Chloe Hill has won the National Council of Women’s #SpeakOut Competition in the 19-30 age category and will speak at the UN Commission on the Status of Women next year.
The competition ran from April to July, and required entrants to write an essay that answered the question: ‘If you could influence government to take action on one issue to improve the lives of women and girls, what would it be?’
In her submission, Ms Hill discussed the lack of women in the national curriculum. Ms Hill said that “the list [for her GCSE English readings] was depressingly male- oriented, despite the fact that I was studying at a fairly liberal girls’ state school.” She noted further that former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was the only woman discussed in her A-level government and politics class.
Ms Hill called for a “total overhaul” of the national curriculum, naming education as “the most universal human right.” Part of her essay addresses her time at St Andrews. Pointing out that she is the first female Students’ Association president since 2001, she wrote that she felt “squeezed between the expected, accepted, male norm.” In addition to being the first female president in more than a decade, she is only the fifth female president since the joining of the men’s and women’s student unions in 1989.
Her proposals will now be put to the government by the president of the National Council of Women, Elsie Leadley. This means that her ideas could result in initiatives that will have a direct impact on improving the lives of girls and women, now and in the future.
Ms Hill spoke in Nottingham at the National Council of Women’s annual conference on 12 October. She spoke alongside guest speaker Gwen Rhys, the founder of Women in the City and the CEO of Networking Culture. Rhys was named as one of the ’30 most influential women in the City’ by Brummel Magazine’s 2012 list. The keynote speaker at the conference was Elin Haf Davies, who has rowed the Atlantic and Indian oceans, sailed the Pacific ocean and campaigns to develop medicines for sick children.
Next year Ms Hill will travel to New York to attend the United Nations’ annual Commission on the Status of Women, as part of her award. The Commission is a body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women.
The Commission will discuss how to replace the millennium goals set in 2000. The millennium goals included decreasing poverty by halving the number of people living off of $1 a day, a guaranteed primary school education for all children, a reduction in the mortality rate of children under five, a reduction in the number of women who die in childbirth, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and making treatment accessible, and increasing access to safe drinking water.
Ms Hill said: “I was completely surprised, and still am. I’m delighted that I was chosen though, as I believe that if we are serious about gaining equality for women then we need to start at the root, and that root is surely education.”
The National Council of Women was founded in 1895 and “aims to interest women in local, regional and national affairs and ensure their participation in all areas of development and decision-making.”