Mentoring for Success: Celebrating the International Day of the Girl

by Jodi Kiang

Posted: 11 Oct 2017

Today, 11th October, is the International Day of the Girl: an observance day introduced by the United Nations to raise awareness of the challenges that girls face around the world. The Day of the Girl seeks to promote the empowerment of all girls and the fulfilment of their human rights. There are 1.1 billion girls around the world and providing the next generation of women with new opportunities is of vital importance for the future. The International Day of the Girl gives us a chance to do just that.

Last night St Paul's Institute, in partnership with Girls Talk London, hosted 60 young women from schools across London at St Paul's Cathedral for an evening of mentoring delivered by women working in the professional sectors. This is the third year this event has taken place and our aim, in keeping with the Day of the Girl, was to empower and inspire these young women and show them some of the careers that are open to them. Many of these girls, aged between 14-18, come from backgrounds where they might be the first in their family to attend university and we wanted to present them with types of careers that they may not have encountered before, and help them reflect on their own interests and skills and how they might use these in the future.

Our focus was on the professional services as St Paul's Cathedral is located in the heart of the City of London - the well-known central business district in the capital. Every day 300,000 people commute to work in the City and about three quarters of these jobs are in the financial, professional, and business services sectors.

In June 2016, just over 50% of jobs in the professional sector were held by women. Back in 2002, women only made up 40% of the professional workforce and it is clear there has been a great deal of change in a short space of time. More and more women are leaving university and are applying for jobs in the professional sectors, and in recent years businesses have been receiving more applications from women than from men. Today, there are more fulltime female legal professionals than men and 44% of all accountants are women.

There are so many amazing opportunities available for women in the professional sector, and as a society we have come a long way from the days where women were not encouraged to work nor have career aspirations. In a time where gender inequality in the work place continues to make front page news, it is encouraging to see professional women breaking down barriers and working hard to change the status quo.

The event was a huge success and the young women engaged in positive discussions with the mentors; asking questions about their chosen careers and seeking their wisdom. The event started in the Quire of the Cathedral with a keynote speech given by Emma Davies, the first female Registrar of St Paul's Cathedral. Emma encouraged the girls to dream big and work hard for what they wanted to achieve. After the event she said: 'I am so pleased that the Cathedral has been able to host an event promoting young women and to help these girls to see that they are not limited, but that there are so many wonderful opportunities open to them.'

The young women then went down to the Crypt where we had 10 tables representing 10 different industries including law, technology, financial services and public relations. The girls had 10 minutes with each profession to hear from the mentors and ask questions about their experiences before they moved on to the next table. There were some amazing conversations taking place and many of the mentors commented on how impressed they were with the girls' questions and how qualified and ambitious they were. The Institute would like to thank all the mentors for taking the time to come to the Cathedral to support, encourage and inspire these young women.

Vanessa Sanyauke is the founder and CEO of Girls Talk London, an organisation seeking to connect young women in the UK with FTSE 100 businesses to help them succeed in the workplace and in their lives. She said: 'We are delighted to partner again for the third year with St Paul's Cathedral to inspire the future generation of female talent. An important part of our mission is to ensure that young girls have access to inspirational role models so that they are able to dream big and become aware of the wonderful opportunities available to them in the future.'

About this author

Jodi Kiang is the Events Planner for the St Paul's Institute