COMMUNITIES from across the county came together on Friday to mark International Women’s Day (IWD).

There were special events organised by Monmouthshire County Council for girl students at in Caldicot and in Monmouth.

This year's IWD had the campaign theme of Balance for Better – a call to action for achieving gender balance around the world.

At Caldicot School, Year 9 pupils heard inspiring stories from local women, including former pupils, who had become leaders in fields including business, law, sport, and volunteering.

One speaker was rising taekwondo star Maddison Davies, who has ambitions of competing in the Olympics.

She said: “I am inspired by being different from other girls like myself. I may be small, but the fight in me, the ability to dream, [and] the passion and drive to push through adversity doesn’t come with height or weight or gender – that comes with heart.

"As women, we survive. We may seem small but we are mighty.”

And at Monmouth Comprehensive School, girls from Years 9 and 10 heard motivational messages from a range of speakers ranging from a foreign diplomat to a firefighter.

Speaking on Friday, Cllr Sara Jones, Monmouthshire’s cabinet member for social justice, said: “I feel really proud to live in a county where people can achieve their goals whatever they might be.

"Some fantastic discussions were held today, with lots of advice for young people about how to plan for the future.

“I hope the young people who took part in the discussions today feel inspired to pursue their dreams.

"I fully support this year’s International Women’s Day campaign which is committed to building a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play.”

And at Monmouth School for Girls, students and staff listened to a presentation from former pupils Flora Coutts, who went on to co-found legal firm Coutts Hall Consulting, and Hannah Trefgarne, who works for fruit production firm Haygrove.

Many pupils at the school also showed their support for IWD by wearing purple ribbons.

Jodie Knight, the school's head of drama, said: “The colour purple was used to signify the progress made by the suffragettes and the suffragists and the hope for a future of gender equality.”

All proceeds raised by Monmouth School for Girls on March 8 will be donated to Plan International, to support the education of a schoolgirl in Kenya.