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International Women's Day: Following in the footsteps of our foremothers

For our assembly for International Women’s Day, before introducing a brilliant student presentation, I paid short homage to the female teachers of my family, in particular, my great great grandmother, Alba Cinzia Caldi Scalcini.

Alba Cinzia Caldi Scalcini, was a poet, children's book author and teacher of literature. At the turn of the century, she helped women to access further and higher education, at a time when women were expected to stay home.

She became President of a suffragette society that gave lectures, organised workshops and gave women access to books.

In 1911, she was one of 150 women who came together, each with a book. This was the beginning of a library that would grow to a 43,000 collection covering art, history, philosophy, science, theatre and music. It was a library that opened new worlds and new opportunities for those women.

She translated ancient and modern classics, wrote poetry and prose. Her children’s books broached difficult subjects like death with a light touch and an easy language. Her book, La Prateria Degli Asfodeli, written in 1943, towards the end of the war, was said to ‘jog the sad memories of dictatorship, but offer dreams of the future for those who survived.’

Alba Cinzia demonstrated bravery in campaigning for education and reminds us of the value of education in empowering others. It is something I often think about when I step into the classroom.

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