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Bridging the Gender Gap: Rise of Model UN and Empowering Girls

12 Apr 2024
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Empowering Girls to be Future Leaders and Policy Makers

Article featured in Boarding Schools Association Magazine, April 2024

Model UN speaker

Learn how St George's School in Edinburgh is inspiring girls to pursue careers in politics & policymaking through its successful Model UN programme and TEDx Youth programme. Girls develop key skills like researching, debating & leadership while exploring global issues. You can read the full article below or click on the link to the Rise of Model UK at St George's School, Edinburgh in the Boarding Schools Association Magazine.

St George's School, an independent day and boarding school for girls in Edinburgh, has seen a rise in students interested in pursuing careers in politics and policy-making after participating in a debating programme based on the model of the United Nations (UN).

Government has long been male dominated, with women underrepresented across parliament. Although progress has been made in recent years, there is still a large discrepancy in more senior positions in parliament. In the House of Commons, 35% of MPs are women, with that number 46% in the Scottish parliament[1].

The number of girls wanting to study politics and/or international relations at university has increased threefold, where 1 in 10 girls now choose to study in these fields since St George’s School launched Model UN simulations. This programme offers pupils the valuable opportunity to experience the functions of the international organisation within co-curriculum activities.

Sara Qayyum, a student at St George’s School, is interested in a career in government and completed work experience with Labour MSP Foysol Choudhury after taking part in Model UN events:

“Being part of Model UN has been a great experience for me. It has given me a glimpse into the world of politics, and it has made my goal of becoming a politician feel more achievable than before. It's not just about debates; it's about understanding the issues that affect our lives and finding ways to make positive change. Model UN has opened doors for me that I never thought possible, and I'm excited to see what comes next”.

Girls from St George’s School have enjoyed great success throughout the years, winning 9 out of 11 ‘political’ debate competitions. Pupils in sixth form lead discussions without notes on pressing global issues, as well as organising conferences and inviting guest speakers. Their goal is to construct solutions to these problems while advocating for their assigned country's perspective and creating alliances with others. Girls have been able to utilise their strong networking skills, allowing them to navigate social situations with more skill.

Speaking about the Model UN, Head of St George's School, Edinburgh, Carol Chandler-Thompson, said:

“We have had great success with the Model UN simulations, and they now make up a key part of our co-curriculum activities. It is important to engage in 'political' debates and challenge stereotypes to inspire the next generation of leaders. We're proud to see an increased interest in International Relations among our students, which is particularly crucial for bridging the gender gap in politics and government”.

Following participation in the Model UN, St George’s hosted their inspiring TEDx Youth event “Voices of the Future”on 15 March. The half-day programme featured a diverse line-up of speakers which included students, members of the community, and outside experts, who shared their thoughts on pressing issues.


Carol Chandler-Thompson


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