Diplomatic summit debates gender equality

Wycombe Abbey temporally became a diplomatic summit centre earlier this month to host its annual Model United Nations conference.

Young people travelled from across the country to take part in the conference, which engaged with some of the most challenging debates concerning gender equality and the rights of women.

Debate was fast paced and challenging, requiring the young delegates to build relationships, develop consensus and make decisions under time pressure.

Consensus was difficult to achieve at first, but some careful negotiations on the second day secured the passage of a resolution on the equal representation of men and women in politics and government.

Each pupil represented the policies of a country or non-governmental organisation, researching their viewpoints in the weeks leading up to the conference.

The two-day event simulated the Commission on the Status of Women, the United Nations body responsible for the encouragement of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Two Wycombe Abbey Seniors (old girls) were instrumental in the establishment of the Commission more than sixty years ago. Elsie Bowerman served as the Commission’s first secretary, while Jessie Street served as its first Vice Chairman.

Participants also had the chance to sample the more refined aspects of diplomatic life on the Saturday night, attending a black tie drinks reception and dinner in the school’s beautiful Carrington Rooms.

The conference is part of the School’s award-winning Model United Nations programme.

Dr Alistair Goddard, who manages Model United Nations at Wycombe Abbey, commented: “To thrive in a globalised world, it is going to be critical for our young women to rapidly build relationships, understand the viewpoints of others, react to changing circumstances and find consensus. These are competencies that are impossible to develop in a classroom, but immersive educational experiences like the Model UN conference help them to develop these skills in a fun and supportive setting.”