As announced last week, we will now start introducing this year’s MIS applicants for the YWPA Zonta Award. Every Wednesday, you will meet one of six incredible young women, currently in grade 12, whose profiles and applications speak of a high level of awareness of the role of women in society and how they will help to bring about a change for the better. Here's the first applicant:
Applicant 1 – Lisa
Meet Lisa, who plans on becoming an actress and director. Her hope is to inspire joy in her community and help people explore complex emotions through the stories she conveys. Moreover, she will use her voice to impact society by creating powerful movies about social and political issues, such as female empowerment and mental health, that inspire people to act.
At MIS, Lisa has been actively involved with the Student Council for eight years and has worked with teachers, parents and the Head of School in the Strategic Planning Committee. She also served on the MIS Foundation panel, a group that funds art projects and special visitors to the school. She said of her experience as being “especially rewarding. I worked on something I am passionate about: Demonstrating the importance of art in people’s lives and education.” Lisa’s commitments outside of MIS also include working with children, and various art-related projects such as music and creating videos.
In 2020, Lisa started MIS’ annual “Women Empowerment Month” that highlights women’s important contributions in society raising money, hosting events, and show-casing the lives of incredible women MIS Alumni, parents, teachers, and in history. And, she has other thoughtful ideas such as implementing syllabi that reflect gender equality and women’s worth to help combat how society perceives women.
Women’s Empowerment Month on Instagram via @munichstuco: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CnZM0DMoi9o/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Applicant 2 – Elina
Meet Elina. One of Elina’s personal goals is to study law with the intent of pursuing a career in international politics. She is driven by the wish to serve as a diplomat at the United Nations in order to initiate peace in states characterised by conflict in the past or currently, such as in her home countries – Germany and Cyprus.
Elina has collected much experience through projects at and outside of MIS, such as campaigning for Amnesty International, being the Secretary General of UNICEF Youth Club, volunteering during the Tanzania 2022 and teaching German to refugees. Elina and her team won the competition for campaigning for the mental health of disabled children.
One of Elina’s ideas for how to empower women through service and advocacy includes enabling women, who wish to have both, demanding careers and families, to make the choice whether they want to work or stay at home. In her Zonta YWPA application she provides suggestions for how to resolve this issue, such as by introducing tax incentives for working mothers.
Applicant 3 – Louise
Meet Louise, whose ultimate ambition is to pursue a career within the UN where she can combine her passions for global politics, economics and communications to have a positive impact on societal development and international relations.
Her pathway to reach these goals will include completing a public affairs internship at a Sweedish embassy in order to develop diplomatic skills and apply her theoretical knowledge of global politics in a real-life context. She further plans to backpack in Asia where she will dedicate her time towards hands-on volunteering. Thereafter, her plan is to accomplish a master’s degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
At MIS, Louise has been Head of PR for the Student Council and the school’s Amnesty International club where she discussed current global issues, political development and human rights with other knowledgeable members. At the school, Louise has also been involved as captain of the MIS volleyball team and other teams. Since grade 9, she has been actively participating in the Model United Nations. Furthermore, Louise tutored refugee children under the theme of educating children, specifically girls. She was also able to apply and pass on her knowledge of microfinance by, for example, teaching workshops to younger students. She adds, “I am particularly pleased with this since the concept of microloans is a unique way to empower women, and I feel honored to tech, especially girls, financial literacy and women’s empowerment.”
Since Louise has experienced a much higher level of equality for women when living in Sweden, she feels very strongly to support women in Germany as well as other countries to become more independent and able to resume work after having children without any barriers:
“Despite the geographical closeness of Germany and Sweden, there is a radical difference in the attitude to equal career opportunities, and what is considered normal in Sweden, will likely take a generation to change in Germany.”
Applicant 4 – Ines
Meet Ines, who aims to pursue her interest in the human sciences by studying for a bachelor’s degree in Politics, Psychology, Law and Economics before adding a master in either Law or Economics.
She believes that “significant global issues such as climate change or gender parity must be approached with a deep understanding of many different disciplines.” As a future lawyer in the International Court of Justice or a leader within organisations such as the United Nations or the Human Rights Watch, Ines longs to help fight inequality in the world. After already having completed an internship with a law firm, she is considering gathering experience by volunteering in local organisations such as the Münchner Tafel or the Frauenhaus.
At MIS, Ines has been actively participating in the Speech & Debate team and even started coaching and leading debate in recent years. She is also a member of ‘Interact Club’, a youth rotary club at MIS, as co-head of the PR team. She has helped to organise events and auctions to raise funds for Munich’s Children’s Hospital.
At MIS, Ines has advocated for women’s rights and gender parity by helping to educate young refugee girls at a local refugee centre. She sees the issue of gender equality needs eradicating not only in countries like Afghanistan, but also in the western ones. As she argues, “The gender pay gap is currently over 13% in Germany, which is low compared to most nations. Additionally, the rates of domestic violence skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting continued problems caused by outdated social constructs.”
Ines feels strongly for the need to educate young people to help build a positive perception of feminism and gender equality. For instance, a local campaign with prominent feminist speakers; and a government-mandated syllabus focusing on issues faced by women nationally and internationally. “Ultimately, this is crucial in establishing a future generation which can revolutionise how gender is approached and work towards equal rights and opportunities universally.”
Applicant 5 – Sophia
Meet Sophia who longs to empower women to go beyond their own restraints and create equal gender opportunities by reshaping society’s perspectives on how women are perceived.
She believes in collaboration as an enriching process that helps to broaden her own mindset and plans on utilizing these skills through studying Communications Science, followed by a career centered around media, film communications, leaning towards business and marketing.
Her activities at MIS include leadership roles such as House Captain and representative at the Model United Nations. “Both opportunities have helped me in my road to overcoming my stage fright.”
Furthermore, Sophia founded a student-led Speech and Debate activity which she considers an incredibly valuable practice for developing an individual voice. By guiding this activity, she not only learned to tweak her communicative strategies, but also expanded on her leadership skills: “I’ve learned how important building a sense of community is for effective leadership and although one sometimes must take charge, the most effective form of leadership really is collaborative, considerate, and attentive.”
Sophia has also been involved with the MIS Interact Club, a branch of Rotary where she helped out at the club’s art auction raising money for the Orlando Lassus Foundation and Munich Children’s Hospital. She intends to continue working the Rotary International and to join HeforShe X UvA association, addressing the inequality that she experiences, making a difference through advocacy, fundraising and action.
Sophia hopes to see more women stepping into leadership roles just as she has done herself and believes that, in the growing age of media, her country of national origin, Denmark, “needs stricter laws surrounding hate speech, sexualization and endangerment online as well as regulated courses in school, teaching everyone to take responsibility for their words, even online.”
Applicant 6 – Maha
Please meet our final applicant for the “Women in Public Affairs” Award (Zonta), Maha.
Maha plans to study Economics at a UK university. She sees herself working in a career in the finance sector or becoming an economist to discuss policies that solve economic and social issues.
She has strongly been, currently is and will continue to be involved in supporting organisations that aim to solve social injustices. Building on her own heritage as a British Pakistani, Maha hopes to raise funds for organisations such as UNICEF and ‘Save the Children’, who have started implementing education schemes that target girls, which would help women in Pakistan to become more independent and less vulnerable.
After visiting Pakistan herself, Maha noticed poverty and a lack of security and support amongst women, even in the larger, more developed, and westernised cities. She adds: “Currently, Pakistan has 35% of its children out of school, and 54% of girls that struggle reading and writing. Therefore, many women do not have prospects for employment. However, increased education would increase women in the workforce, giving them representation and financial independence.”
At MIS, Maha has been part of “The Hunger Project” and “Amnesty International” clubs which, as she states, “kept her accountable to learn about issues” including its causes and actions that can be taken. She also exercised leadership skills by guiding discussions, posing questions, and organising topics with her peers. Maha additionally helped to develop and lead a UNICEF Youth Club which organises fundraising and advocacy events. “My work for Amnesty and UNICEF has been invaluable as they have shown me how much influence I have. I can use resources to educate myself and share knowledge with others. I have also realised the power of spreading awareness of social issues to encourage people to be active, by donating and joining the cause.”
Having grown up in awareness of her own quality of life and opportunities, Maha takes the most pride in her work at annual Winterfest markets in which she has been selling handmade products such as jewellery, hair bows, cushions and stockings with sweets of which she donates the funds to ‘Save the Children’ each year.