O Block pupils Ali H (11, M) and Florence T (11, F) this week launched the Repton Feminist Society and were joined by over 60 pupils and staff at its inaugural virtual meeting.  

They were inspired to launch the Society last term to dispel the notion that feminism is a ‘radical, far-left movement’ and create a safe space to discuss their experiences and talk about the role feminism plays in modern society. They said when talking amongst their friends about their own experiences as young women, most had been directly affected by everyday sexism, saying: “We were all able to share a multitude of instances when we had felt uncomfortable or frightened; walking alone in the dark or going on a run and being harassed by honking vans. These experiences really brought to light the injustice of it all; why did this happen to so many of us? Why is this still normalised in today's society? Having these overdue conversations highlighted that there is a community at Repton who strongly encouraged the advocacy of gender equality and wished to explore the topic and nature of feminism further”. 

Harry W (11, S) joined the meeting, saying: “The Feminist Society is important because feminism is a belief I think most people should hold; if the name has been misconstrued then maybe having a society will help clarify its meaning. I hope it will teach us how to be the best allies we can to all genders”. 

Headmaster Mark Semmence is committed to ensuring that the whole Repton community is active in driving change so that women of all ages are safe and feel safe and supported and that men understand their role in making this happen. Mr Semmence, who also attended the first meeting of Repton Feminist Society, said: "The powerful feelings prompted by the murder of Sarah Everard have consequences for us all and our thoughts and prayers remain with Sarah's family and friends. It demonstrates the strength of feeling by Reptonian's that two of our pupils have been instrumental in launching this important Society to give their peers a safe space in which to discuss their own experiences and concerns, as well as to develop meaningful action in support of equality in all realms of society." 

Former Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, Repton Governor and Old Reptonian Susannah Fish OBE QPM spoke out last week on BBC Radio 4 about the 'Toxic culture of sexism' in policing. Her appearance on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour came in the wake of Sarah’s brutal murder and joins the many public voices of concern around the safety of women and how the justice system responds to misogyny. Mrs Fish was asked how she felt about reporting a crime to the police as a woman. She replied that while reporting a crime against property was "not an issue", for a crime against herself she would "probably struggle for how I would be judged".  

A close friend of Sarah Everard, Helena Edwards, went on public record in an effort to reassure women and men that Sarah’s case was as unique as it was devastating, saying: “Most people, and indeed men, are good. They would never wish harm on anyone else, let alone attack or kill someone. Despite what has happened to Sarah allegedly at the hands of this man, I will continue to believe that. As a 33-year-old woman, what will I take from this? I am reminded that life is short, and I will try to live mine to the full. Of course, I will be sensible and maybe take a few more taxis than I used to. But I will not live in fear.” 

The entire Repton community has come together to reflect on Sarah’s murder, to discuss how women and girls can be made to feel safer and how our close community can support one another to influence change. During his weekly Chaplain Chat, Father Neil said: “We gather in solidarity with the women of today whose demands for justice and inclusion call us to a conversation”. He also spoke about MP Jess Phillips’ plight to highlight the number of women killed in the act of violence at the hands of men each year by reading their names out in the Houses of Parliament on International Women’s Day, which in the last year totalled 118.   

Ali and Florence agreed that media coverage around Sarah’s dreadful murder has sparked many important discussions in every lesson, across all subjects. They said: “Seeing so many students and teachers attend the first meeting of the Repton Feminist Society filled us with great confidence in the passion and drive our School has to begin conversations many people are yet to have about gender inequality and feminism.”