A mix of policy and poetry

It is not often that pupils have the opportunity to contribute to events held at the House of Commons.  But on Tuesday 8th March, International Women’s Day, four of our Sixth Formers had just such an opportunity.

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Mona Arshi, Augustinian parent and award-winning author of the poetry collection ‘Small Hands’ curated a major event held in one of the Houses of Parliament’s Committee Rooms to mark International Women’s Day.  This was a mixture of policy and poetry, which began with a panel discussion on the topic ‘Sexual harassment in public spaces’.

The event dealt with the report on the findings of key research into sexual harassment in public spaces, conducted by the End Violence Against Women Coalition and opened with a welcome by Seema Malhotra MP.  This was followed by contributions from panellists who included Professor Aisha Gill, University of Roehampton, Sarah Green, End Violence Against Women Coalition and Naz Shah, MP.  This was a stimulating and challenging event which contributed to everyone’s knowledge of the issue.

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After a short interval it was time for the celebratory aspect of the evening.  Ms Arshi introduced the poets Clare Pollard and Selina Nwulu who both gave spirited performances of their poetry followed by Maryan Ishaq, a talented finalist of the Poetry by Heart Competition.

It was then time for our Sixth Form students, Aoife-Jane Moss, Alexia Kirov, Katarina Krneta and Shivali Sharma to stand and perform two poems.  ‘The Ballad of the Small-Boned Daughter’ by Mona Arshi is a haunting tale inspired by the fate of Shafilea Ahmed, a girl who was murdered in a so-called ‘honour killing’ by her parents in 2003.  The second poem was ‘Ugly’ by Warsan Shire, a poem of enormous depth and vision.

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Our students’ performance brought out the meanings of the two poems and they were delivered with confidence and great feeling. Katarina commented later, ‘It was lovely to have the opportunity to perform in the Houses of Parliament for International Women’s Day.  We valued hearing the panel discussion and thoroughly enjoyed performing such moving poems.’

Miss Brown, who had directed the girls’ through their rehearsal period, reflected that the event was a great success, with excellent speakers and a wonderful performance from our students.

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