The Mulberry Schools Trust is a flourishing multi-academy trust with a charitable foundation called the Mulberry Schools Foundation. It was founded by Mulberry School for Girls, which has pioneered outstanding education in East London stretching back over 50 years. The school promotes high quality education for young women and has its own distinctive ethos which reflects the particular community and area which it serves. With this background in mind, Partnership of Equals was borne out of a need to uphold the importance of leadership by young women in employment, public life, community and family roles.
Since 2007, our conferences and their associated education programmes formed the bedrock of work to give young women voice and visibility, as well as access to a wide variety of female role models from different walks of life. Programmes were designed to develop leadership skills and to support the confidence of girls and young women, as well as to profile the importance of their voices. For over a decade, they have been female only spaces with the quite specific purpose of being a very visible platform for girls and women in a world where the male has been the accepted generic – with all that it implies.
Our first programme was called ‘Women Leading Global Change’ and involved girls making a film about female activists in the UK, as well as looking at the issues for women internationally. Our next programme focused on the women who led the Ford cars strike for equal pay in Dagenham in the 1960’s, which led to the Equal Pay Act. These two programmes happened in collaboration with the East London Consortium Independent State School Partnership. Mulberry School for Girls went on to develop conferences on women in STEM as well as women who lead in business and finance, in the following years before returning in 2014 to a consideration of what should a great education look like for 21st century women.
In 2018, we decided to move on from a female only space to talk about equality. The Mulberry Schools Trust came into existence in 2016 and boys have now joined us in the leadership of this important conversation – what would a true partnership of equals look like? This conference brings the voices of boys and young men together with girls and young women in support of each other. Our young people come from schools across the UK to talk about gender equality. Working in partnership with one another, we imagine a future where all people are equal, regardless of their gender, where every person has the same rights, freedoms and opportunities; and where nobody faces discrimination on the basis of their gender.
Our 2018 Partnership of Equals conference and training resources for schools are committed to facilitating dialogue, cooperation and supportive partnerships between young people of all genders, in order to create a future where gender equality is the norm. In this conference, we have a dedicated space to sit down at the table together to learn, think, discuss and debate.
At the end of this conference, we will go forward and take action to create the gender equal future we dream of.
Dr V Ogden
CEO Mulberry Schools Trust