Gender equality trailblazer delivers inspiring talk for International Women’s Day

12 March 2024

Celebrating International Women’s Day, all-girls school St Mary’s held an Empowering Girls event on Saturday 9 March. An inspiring and insightful talk was delivered by best-selling author and gender equality advocate, Joy Burnford to parents and daughters from St Mary’s and the wider community.

The Empowering Girls event, held at St Mary’s Senior School, explored how parents can provide the best environment for their daughters to flourish and what we can all do to empower girls to be who they want to be in the world. The session provided inspiration on how to provide the right environment, at home and at school, for girls to be successful in the future. Joy’s talk explored the idea of thinking of daughters as seedlings and what parents need to do today to create the right environment for them to grow and flourish as they move through school and into their careers.

Joy Burnford shared her experiences and talked about some of the things that have helped her to have a fulfilling career, which included her ‘Career Kit Bag’ of ‘The 4 Cs’ for career success – Confidence, Commitment, Connections and Collaboration.

An interactive activity, which involved the audience identifying their strengths, encouraged discussion amongst families and provided an excellent opportunity for the girls to think about their personal qualities. Joy Burnford spoke about the importance of role modelling behaviours in the home and at work and gave examples from her own experiences of how an equal split of responsibilities in the home can be supportive for the careers of both parents.

The session finished with a video of a child social experiment looking at gender equality by The Finance Sector Union of Norway, which sparked a range of emotional responses from the audience as they watched the reaction of children who were rewarded differently depending on their gender, for carrying out the same task.

Nicola Griffiths, Principal of St Mary’s Colchester said: “We were delighted that Joy Burnford supported our Empowering Girls event to help champion our vision to inspire girls to see the world as one of limitless possibilities. At St Mary’s we believe girls are remarkable and that there is a need for women to play a greater role in the world of work and society as a whole. Joy Burnford is truly inspirational and it was clear to see that the attendees to her talk went away feeling enthused and energised”.

Following the talk, Joy Burnford and St Mary’s Principal, Nicola Griffiths, presented prizes for the St Mary’s International Women’s Day poetry competition that ran for school age children.

At the end of the event, the opportunity for a book signing of Joy’s bestselling book ‘Don’t fix women: the practical path to gender equality at work’, was on offer to a queue of inspired parents and girls.

About Joy Burnford:

Joy Burnford is the Founder and CEO of Encompass Equality (previously My Confidence Matters) and a recognised gender equality trailblazer.

With over 25 years’ experience as a business leader, non-exec director, podcast host and speaker, Joy helps organisations accelerate their journey towards sustainable gender equality by providing them with strategic advisory services, research and a range of practical solutions that create equitable places to work.

As author of bestselling book ‘Don’t fix women: the practical path to gender equality at work’, host of ‘The Equality Conversation’ podcast and contributor of over 70 articles on, Joy has interviewed hundreds of senior business leaders, board members, CEOs, authors and experts, and has been cited in national, business and HR press. She regularly speaks at conferences and industry events and sits on the UK’s Chartered Management Institute Women’s Advisory Committee and the Financial Times Women at the Top Advisory Board.

She is also a Non-Executive Director and Vice President of the East of England Co-op, playing a key role in ensuring the long-term success of the business, shaping future direction and overseeing governance, policy and strategy decisions.

She is a busy wife and mum to two wonderfully different children and a dog called Ziggy!

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