Madeleine Pownall, age 20, from Leeds has been named as UNiDAYS Student Woman of the Year 2018. Madeleine was recognised for her Skirts in Schools Campaign, which highlights the danger of banning skirts and forcing girls to wear trousers.
The Student Woman of the Year competition was aptly launched on International Women’s Day. This competition was started because all too often, the incredible achievements of women go unheard. Back in March, students across the UK were asked to nominate a remarkable female student that makes a difference to their community. It’s safe to say that Madeleine really fits the bill.
Madeleine started the ‘Skirts in Schools’ Campaign back in 2016, following the banning of skirts in the school that she attended. Madeleine believes that everyone should have the right to outwardly express their gender identity. Branding school skirts as ‘inappropriate’ and ‘distracting for male teachers’ sexualises young girls and leads to entrenched body anxieties.
Madeleine has said: “I’m delighted to have won this award, which will give me a wider platform to educate and motivate other young women. All too often, women’s voices and achievements go unrecognised, so it’s great to have won a competition that celebrates the incredible things that student women across the UK have accomplished.”
Madeleine was up against 2300 other students for the title, and the judging panel was made up of many inspirational women: Mai Fenton, UNiDAYS Marketing Director EMEA, Nicola White, Missguided’s Head of Affiliates, Tamara Castelli, UNiDAYS Head of Data and Insights, Situl Bains, UNiDAYS Global General Counsel, and Phoebe Gormley, Founder of Savile Row Tailors Gormley & Gamble.
Panel judge Mai Fenton, EMEA Marketing Director at UNiDAYS, said: “The competition for Student Woman of the Year was fierce, and it was inspiring to read the stories of so many young women. Madeleine’s passion really stood out for us, and we hope she continues to inspire other women to fight for equality.’
This amazing young woman has used the £2000 cash prize to attend a conference on women and equality. The conference addresses female stereotypes, inequality and gender, and Madeleine will be presenting there. Madeleine also runs a blog – ‘Thought Bubbles’ – and is a writer for The Psychologist magazine. She is looking to start her PhD at the University of Leeds in September.