Monmouthshire County Council’s Youth Enterprise Team hosted an event to celebrate International Women’s Day at Chepstow School on Thursday 8th March.  In keeping with this year’s theme Press for Progress, pupils aged 12 to 17 years listened to inspirational and empowering presentations from four speakers who talked of their own personal experience and shared how they have forged successful careers in what are perceived to be male-dominated industries.

Councillor Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for equalities, talked of her passion to increase the number of women in politics to make a difference for future generations.  Councillor Jones encouraged pupils to be active citizens and become involved in local groups to make changes.  Monmouthshire’s youth forum Engage 2 Change was cited as a model for young people to achieve a collective voice in tackling important issues.

Chemical engineer Maryam Farhanah explored the variety of possibilities for girls choosing engineering degrees.  Ms Farhanah, a process engineer at Mott MacDonald, described her journey and provided valuable insight, breaking down the barriers of a career in engineering.

Poppy Harris, Monmouthshire County Council’s 21st Century Support Officer discussed her career as the only woman in a team of fifteen men working on the transformation of schools in Monmouthshire, including Monmouth Comprehensive School and Caldicot School.  Poppy talked of her role and how she progressed from apprenticeship in Monmouthshire’s youth service to her current role.  Poppy shared her wise words by saying; “I’ve learnt not to be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what people are saying.  People assume that the best attribute in the construction industry is strength, but from my experience the most important skill is communication.  It’s all about problem-solving and working as a team.  You need determination to get through the highs and lows – don’t be afraid to face your fear and get out of your comfort zone. Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

Partnership officer at Newport City Council, Chloe Beth Morgan, a former Miss Wales and Miss Universe Great Britain contestant, told of the challenges she has faced and how she has overcome stereotypical assumptions associated with modelling. She aimed to inspire and empower women to attain their goals.

Councillor Jones said: “It was heartening to be involved an event which could inspire and empower so many girls in Monmouthshire.  We need more events to break down barriers and perceptions so our future generations have the best opportunities and confidence to be equals in male-dominated careers.”

For more information about Monmouthshire Youth Enterprise Team – contact Hannah Jones 07738340418.

To find out more about Monmouthshire Youth Forum Engage 2 Change contact Jade Atkins 07790355724.