International Women’s Day and Million Women Rise

Some people might have already seen our photos from Million Women Rise on Facebook or in this Flickr Set. A group of us gathered bright and early in the unexpected Saturday morning sunshine at the cafe in Hyde Park. There was time before the start for commiserations over hangovers, birthday best wishes to Naomi and Becky and lots of photographs of our placards made by Tara and Daniella. My Mum came along too and brought chocolates to hand around, while we drank tea and prepared ourselves for the march down Oxford Street, Regent Street and all the way to Trafalgar Square. We had a slight farce with serveral ladies needing to run off and find a toilet, but everyone made it back in time to line up near the front with our Shoreditch Sisters banner and placards. Luckily it wasn’t as windy as last year, so this was easier to carry.

We said hello to lots of different people in the march. Some ladies from Brixton WI were helping with the stewarding. My Mum got chatting with women from Bradford Rape Crisis Centre and we were all  awed by those who had come from all over the UK to attend. I have to admit that the marching, whistle blowing and banner waving was exhausting, and Mum and I left our friends for a sit down, before joining the group again for the music and speakers in Trafalgar Square.

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It had already been quite an emotional day and I had been welling up with feelings of pride for all the women willing to come together and make a stand, but then in the square there were tears for different reasons.We heard about the treatment of women in the war zones around the world. Ordinary women from Palestine and Sri Lanka told us about the struggles in their lives. Saria from Forward and Nimko from Daughters of Eve spoke about FGM. The mighty Justice Hotep was on comparing duties, having  impressed us with her freestyling last year, helped keep the crowd positive. She lead the chanting in the square as the march arrived and later ably helped deflect a random man wanting to get hold of the mike while the whole crowd sang along to Redeption Song. As the weather started to turn cold, songs had been sung, speaches made, placards neatly stacked up there were hungs all around as we made our seperate ways home, all feeling a little bit proud of ourselves and all our sisters. 

You might have missed this year’s march, but you can join us next year and bring your friends, sisters and mother.

The national Women’s Institute is campaigning for an integrated strategy to tackle all forms of violence against women as part of End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition. Get involved in the national WI’s campaign to raise awareness of the need for specialist support services for victims of domestic violence (link) Towards the bottom of the page is a what you can do section with a template letter to help you write to your local council and ask what rape crisis services they provide.

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