Principal’s Lecture - UN Women

Alice Fookes and Jihyun Park

The Principal’s Lecture, on Saturday 5th May, made a great impression on everyone gathered in the Princess Hall. The two women, who spoke jointly, inspired our girls with their stirring messages. They were particularly struck by the intensely personal account and remarkable resilience of one of the speakers, whose account was a sobering reminder of the suffering endured by so many in the world today.

The first speaker, Alice Fookes, is a member of the UK National Council of UN Women. She spoke very passionately about the ways in which this organisation seeks to empower women and to help them find a voice. She shared how UN Women works internationally to promote equality and empowerment for women, especially those who are most affected by poverty and who live in societies which limit and oppress them.

The personal testimony of a North Korean refugee, Jihyun Park, was especially moving. In order to survive, because her family was literally starving to death, Jihyun and her brother escaped in 1998, but Jihyun was trafficked as a slave in China by an individual who offered to assist her.

What she endured is deplorable, yet she is a wonderful example of an incredibly brave and resilient person who has turned such extreme hardship into positive action. A former maths teacher from North Korea, Jihyun Park is now a freelancer for the BBC and co-director of a charity called Stepping Stones. She also works for the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea.

Mrs Oosthuizen, Head of Lower College