A STUDENT in Oxford has been recognised for her work towards gender equality, and changing attitudes within her school.

Wychwood School pupil Anaïs Arroyo, 18, has been honoured with the Diana Award, established in memory of Princess Diana.

Miss Arroyo was nominated by her English teacher, Bridget Sherlock, although she was completely unaware of this.

The student said she was ‘genuinely surprised’ when she found out she had received the award.

See also: Lulu and Alexander Armstrong among stars in school music video

She said: “I feel very honoured to have been recognised in such a way. Thank you to all those who wholeheartedly embraced my initiatives - it is as much a recognition of your efforts as it is mine.”

During work experience at London-based NGO Sisters for Change in 2017, Miss Arroyo became more aware of women’s rights, and said she wanted to bring back what she’d learnt to the school.

“I’d always been a quiet and reserved person but I came back with the confidence to speak on issues,” she said.

“I went there to learn something completely new and it was a real turning point.

“With the knowledge I got from work experience, it magnified the issues closer to home.

Read more: Villagers criticise film director Tim Burton over fence

“Action demands the courage to speak as well as the opportunity to be heard, which I have tried to relay to the younger students at Wychwood.”

Miss Arroyo has since been involved in projects to raise money for the homeless and has volunteered at the Gatehouse in Oxford.

Her work has led to changing attitudes within her school and wider community.

She also is a part of the Girl Up club at Wychwood, which has seen her work on newsletters and advocacy workshops.

The club empowers and encourages younger students to take action in the campaign for equal rights.

See more: Man accused of flashing kitchen knife at drivers waiting at red lights

With all these humanitarian activities, it comes as no surprise that Miss Arroyo sees her future in human rights causes.

“Before the pandemic, I planned to have a gap year, with much of it dedicated to volunteering,” she said.

“I wanted to go to Nepal for three months, working with marginalised women.

“In the future, I definitely want to do something centred around human rights, whether that is working with an NGO or pursuing human rights law, in particular women’s rights.”

Ms Sherlock, deputy head of pastoral and head of English at Wychwood, said: “We are thrilled Anaïs has been successful.

See more: Nearly 100 babies not vaccinated against deadly diseases in Oxfordshire this year

“Her vision has always been to ‘be the change you want to see in this world’ and she inspires that change in those around her with her passion as well as her humility.

“There is action in her stillness, strength in her gentleness and determination in her kindness.

“It is a wonderful end to a most unusual term and a very well-deserved award for a most extraordinary young woman who will, undoubtedly, change the lives of those she encounters in the future for the better.”

Tessy Ojo, chief executive officer of the Diana Award, added: “We congratulate Anaïs and all our new Diana Award recipients who are changemakers for their generation.

“We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.

“For over twenty years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”