Ashley Hall’s unique global awareness program is centered around an annual school-wide commitment to embracing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This year, the Class of 2023 voted to focus the School’s global education theme on Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

“Every day, our students are encouraged and empowered to become the next generation of leaders,” says Head of School Dr. Anne T. Weston ’73. “Our focus on U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 5 for this year’s theme offers a powerful framework in which to realize this important work across our entire School.”

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed in 2012 with the purpose of creating a set of global initiatives related to the environmental, political, and economic challenges that we all face throughout the world. A list of seventeen goals was crafted to serve as a blueprint for a better world and includes focus on ending poverty, hunger, inequity, and climate change to name a few. The SDGs are ambitious, yet the U.N. intends to have them met in 2030.

The intent of Goal 5 is to empower all girls and women while reinforcing the crucial role boys and men play in achieving these goals. Gender equality, and with it, gender equity, does not discriminate or diminish one group over the other. Nor does it seek to privilege one group above another. Rather, where equality and equity exist, all thrive.

“We hope the theme and our yearlong celebration of the accomplishments of girls and women in all fields inspires all students to further embrace their Ashley Hall PQV spirit,” says Global Education Coordinator Jonathan Perkins who works with the School’s administration and faculty to support curricular, extracurricular, and travel programs that reinforce the power of having a global perspective.

This year’s campaign also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which has transformed girls’ and women’s educational opportunities, especially participation in the athletic arena. “Some schools celebrate having girls for 50 years,” says Weston. “They deserve credit for realizing that girls bring intelligence, creativity, and stability to their communities. There are other schools like ours who understand that it is truly all about the girls. We’ve been celebrating girls since 1909.”

Programming will consist of classroom instruction, hands-on activities, and opportunities to engage with visiting speakers, with an even greater focus on how to empower girls and women. These will be augmented by community-based and internationally-focused philanthropic activities that are also focused on girls and women.

Last year with heightened attention to global water challenges, and with the School’s campus being located in a flood-prone area, Ashley Hall celebrated “A Year of Water” which paid special attention to water-related SDGs: clean water and sanitation (Goal 6); and life below water (Goal 14). Students will use future school years as an opportunity to continue to explore more SDGs.