In honor of Women’s History Month, BASIS International & Bilingual Schools proudly join in celebrating the extraordinary contributions of women throughout history. This month serves as a reminder of the remarkable impact that women have made in shaping our world, from the corridors of academia to the forefront of social change.

Women’s History Month began to be observed in the United States in 1987, with International Women’s Day having been observed for over 100 years and was marked for the first time by the United Nations in 1975.


Fourth Annual International Women’s Day event

At BASIS International School Guangzhou, the Fourth Annual International Women’s Day event celebrated the graduating class’s remarkable women with Barbie-themed flair. The planning team poured their hearts into crafting a memorable evening, complete with touching invitations from our Pre-K 2 girls. As the seniors entered the transformed Multi-Purpose Room on March 6th, they were greeted by dazzling decorations and captivating performances by Ms. Toni and peers. Ms. GF’s motivational speech and heartfelt messages from alumni and mothers added depth to the festivities, leaving lasting memories for all.


Women’s Day Exhibition

To honor International Women’s Day, BASIS International School Hangzhou held a successful Women’s Day Exhibition, titled “Her Multiverse.” The collaborative efforts of the Social Focus Club, Art Honors Society, and female teachers celebrated diverse stories and perspectives. Students and teachers involved are proud of the remarkable collaboration, reaffirming their commitment to empowerment and inclusivity. 

Tokens of Appreciation

In celebration of the remarkable women who shape our BASIS International & Bilingual Schools network, we gave our female faculty members a small token of our gratitude for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. Their unwavering commitment to excellence deserves recognition every day, and we’re proud to honor their contributions to our community.

Faculty Reflections

As we reflect on the significance of Women’s History Month, voices from various corners of our school network offer reflections and insights. Join us as we explore what Women’s History Month signifies to these teachers and school leaders and delve into the stories that inspire and empower them. Through their narratives, we glimpse the ongoing journey that propels women forward, shaping history and inspiring generations to come.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

“There is no modernity and no justice without the talent, the passion, and the steely intelligence of women.” – Toni Morrison.  

While we have seen avenues of power and influence open up to women (or close to them) over the past decade, generation, or century, it is essential to remember that the power of women in history has not only been distilled to those few who spoke loud enough for history to listen.  

All structures that limit, silence, or numb one group for the benefit or convenience of another are inherently evil. However, it would be a mistake to believe that they can ever be wholly successful. Women have never failed to act, influence, or speak; many have simply had to do so subtly or so quietly that they were not heard by history. Women’s History Month is a call to remember not only the few great women whose names we know but to use these icons to honor the many who worked in canny ways to shape the world behind closed doors. 

Erica Gale Smeltzer, PhD 
Head of School 
BASIS International School Guangzhou  

Women’s History Month is a celebration of the unstoppable force that is womanhood. It’s a recognition of the trailblazers who have paved the way, the women in power who inspire us, and the unmatched strength that lies within every woman. I’m grateful to have had and continue to have such queens to support me – my mother, great aunt, and both grandmothers. Their power, passion, determination, and unwavering commitment to being all they can be have inspired me to reach for the stars. During this month and every month, we honor the legacies of the women who have shaped us and celebrate the limitless potential of those yet to come. Keep rising!  

Shauna Sterling  
Vice Head of Primary 
ELL Chair 
BASIS International School Hangzhou 

Women’s History Month is a time to recognize and celebrate the remarkable achievements and contributions of women throughout history. As a New Zealander, I am proud to pay tribute to the influential women who have shaped my country’s history since New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. As a female leader, I believe Women’s History Month is of great significance as it allows us to honor and amplify the legacy of women who have made remarkable contributions while also inspiring the next generation of female leaders. As a mother of a daughter, Women’s History Month presents us with the opportunity to reflect together on the incredible women who have contributed to shaping history and to share stories of female leaders, scientists, activists, and artists. This month is a powerful reminder of the ongoing journey toward gender equality and the need to uplift, support, and amplify women’s voices in all aspects of life. 

Nicole Sittie   
Head of Early Childhood Education 
BASIS  International  School Guangzhou  

For me, every month is Women’s History Month because we are always working to celebrate and acknowledge women’s contributions throughout history. We ensure that our female students are empowered as changemakers and leaders. They start Clubs, lead charity fundraisers, and represent our student body through their Student Council work. We ensure that female authors are taught and our girls have female role models at school. 

Sheila Seiler 
Head of Middle and High School
BASIS International School Nanjing 

Tell us about a woman who inspires you. 

In Grade 1, my teacher read me the story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Ann Sullivan. This experience left a lasting impression, inspiring me to become an educator. Ann was very dedicated to helping Helen reach her potential. I want to support and encourage students to overcome challenges and realize their potential. The story instilled in me the lessons of perseverance, kindness, and the belief in the abilities of every person. This has shaped my career decision to become an educator. Together, anything is possible! 

Kyra Gailis 
Head of School
BASIS International School Hangzhou 

I am inspired by my grandmother. She was the kindest person I have ever known; I cannot recall her ever being unkind towards anyone. She embodied a genuine love and compassion for all people that I strive to replicate on a daily basis. I firmly believe if we all worked to be more kind, most of the problems we encounter would be greatly diminished. My grandmother helped to show me that love, compassion, and respect go far; people deserve to be treated respectfully and with kindness. Even today, more than ten years after my grandmother’s passing, I think about her frequently and always smile, thinking about her genuine care for all other living things.

Amanda DeBoer 
Head of ECE and Primary
BASIS International School Nanjing  

One woman who continually inspires me is Mrs. Kyra Gailis, our Head of School at BASIS International School Hangzhou. Her unwavering determination, coupled with her compassionate leadership style, serve as a constant source of motivation for me. Mrs. Gailis embodies the values of integrity, kindness, and resilience, leading by example in every aspect of her work. Her genuine care for our school community and her infectious positivity create an environment where everyone feels valued and empowered. Mrs. Gailis’s ability to navigate challenges with grace and optimism demonstrates the power of perseverance and empathy. Working alongside her has been a privilege, and her leadership inspires me to strive for excellence in all I do. 

Polina Jackson 
Vice Head of High School
BASIS International School Hangzhou 

There are many women in my life who have been influential to me. As I get older, though, I notice the power of women more and more. I’ve also found that my friendships with female friends have become more empowering.  

One of the women who has influenced me the most is a lady I connected with on the internet. The values she spreads to those who follow her deeply affect and inspire me. For example, women must be self-reliant, learn to deal with their emotions, and pay attention to what they say. In other words, we need to be able to see how our own words affect relationships and even influence our fate. She shared that no matter our situation or age, we must not be lazy and just rely on others. Many women have age anxiety, and I have some, too. She also urges us to fight aging with growing wisdom and a strong heart. I get a lot of strength from her. 

Sharon Bao 
Vice Head of Lower Primary
BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen 

What lesson do you wish to instill in the next generation of women? 

Whether you choose to be a traditional housewife, a multifaceted professional, or something in between, now more than ever, women possess societal role flexibility. It’s my hope that with each generation of girls growing into women, the universal values of kindness, respect, and compassion remain central in every space we women occupy. 

Livia  Dilts
Head of Primary School
BASIS International School Guangzhou 

As a 21st-century woman, I aspire to impart an invaluable lesson to the next generation of women: the ethos of “Self-reliance and Empowerment.” Encouraging young women to cultivate a spirit of independence and resilience will equip them to face life’s challenges with unwavering strength. By fostering a sense of self-empowerment, we are nurturing future leaders who not only embrace their potential but also contribute positively to the world around them. Let us instill in them the belief that they have the power to shape their destinies and inspire others. 

Jennie Pan
Head of School
BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen 

As a teacher, I believe it is important to instill the lesson of self-confidence and self-worth in the next generation of women. They can achieve anything they set their minds to, and they should never let anyone else define their worth or limit their potential. They can be a rose, a tree, a bird, a torch, or anyone/anything they want to be. I also want to teach them the importance of supporting and uplifting one another. In a world that often pits women against each other, the power of solidarity and sisterhood is high-spirited. By building each other up and celebrating each other’s successes, they can create a more inclusive and empowering community for all women. 

May they be confident, supportive, and resilient individuals who are unafraid to chase their dreams and make a positive impact on the world. May every woman find her passion and chase it.  

Xinglin Liu
Vice Head of Primary
BASIS International School Shenzhen 

Given the significant progress women have achieved in equality and rights, it is imperative for female leaders to consistently emphasize to other women the importance of collaboration. Through collective efforts and mutual support, women can harness formidable collective influence. Interacting with numerous influential female figures at BASIS is a daily source of empowerment, as I regard them as mentors, guides, and counselors.  The next generation of women are our students, and therefore, teaching them from a young age to work together is an aspiration that I have for my students. 

Jessica Loots
Founding Vice Head of Early Childhood
BASIS International & Bilingual Schools Chengdu 

How do you empower yourself and the women around you? 

As a leader, I am intrinsically motivated to see others succeed, and it gives me joy to empower others through genuine care, mentorship, and encouragement. I embrace my female qualities, and at the same time, I challenge stereotypes. My view of empowerment is progressive as a leader, and it’s all about how you frame the circumstances and situations. I lean into challenging situations and intentionally step back to reflect, which is an excellent source of empowerment. I have coined the term “empowerment sway”! 

Tara McKenna
Founding Head of School
BASIS Bilingual Kindergarten Nanshan 

I empower women around me by leading by example, fostering collaboration and support, providing mentorship and guidance, and celebrating achievements and successes. I set high standards for my work, encouraging dedication and resilience in others. By creating a culture of collaboration and support, I ensure that women feel valued and empowered to navigate challenges together. We celebrate the achievements of women, inspiring confidence and continued growth. 

Madalina Ailincai
Vice Head of High School
BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour  

Women of BASIS,
On this, Women’s History Month, I would like to thank both the men and women among us who work each day to find a place and space for equity, voice, choice, kindness, and respect for each other. Perhaps a day will come when the roles and responsibilities of women are valued so naturally that no special day is needed to honor what we do each and every day. Thanks to all of you, women, who continue to make history and work tirelessly, selflessly, and strongly to make their world and THE world a better place.  

Here’s to US!  

Syndi Taylor, M. Ed.
Head of Lower School
BASIS International & Bilingual Schools Wuhan 


As the curtain falls on our celebration of Women’s History Month at BASIS International & Bilingual Schools, we are reminded of the profound impact that honoring women’s achievements has on shaping a more equitable future. From the vibrant festivities that adorned our campuses to the heartfelt reflections shared by our educators and leaders, this month has been a testament to the resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit of women everywhere.

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