Magazine on Tour
International Women's Day Celebrations
Centenary anniversary 1911-2011. 'The Road To Equality'
London Borough of Havering's Technical College, Ardleigh Green
Saturday March 5th 2011
I arrived to a rapidly filling up hall and was welcomed with a goodie
bag of 'International Women's Day' themed treats including chocolates
and an umbrella. My glee was reduced however when I realised the day was
hosted by London's Metropolitan Police.
When women are being severely affected by ideological Government cuts
and older children are having their ESA educational grants taken away
which will cause huge distress and could so easily be avoided by changing
our lax tax laws, to see the numerous cops there was disconcerting to
say the least. The older children may not even be able to go to college
next year as nine thousand pounds tuition fees is beyond reach of most
young people, and the thought of all that debt hanging over you from a
loan is depressing to say the least.
Our women and children also have legal rights to protest peacefully against
these monstrous decisions and yet they are charged with police horses,
having their skulls cracked open with police truncheons and being CS gassed.
One wonders at the insensitivity of having these Government stooges in
the house when they do their dirty work. Get overseas registered companies
who earn their money here and dodgy bankers who take public taxpayer's
bailouts (and then have the nerve to award themselves greedy bonuses)
to pay for this 'crisis'.
Regardless, I settled down and listened to each speaker. I was firstly
informed that in many countries that this day is when men buy the women
small gifts and flowers. At this the Mayor councillor Pam Light leant
in to me and said 'take note of that!' It must be noted that my dad's
friend had delivered me a freshly cooked curry that morning!
We were reminded that women are still not receiving equal pay, not properly
represented in business and politics and still bear the brunt of so much
male violence. Fortunately we can still be positive, inspired and celebrate
our achievements which are many.
The Mayor gave a fantastic speech, which was an appeal for PEACE.
"Men are fighting in Arab countries, the women mop up. Stop it.
Peace, peace...peace is our goal. Peace must come first and we, as women,
must lead the way. Encourage young women to do the same. It's time we
led, not just followed".
Dame Jinty Nelson is from the History department at King's College, London.
She told us that in 1970 women were banned from the staff room there.
Judy informed us that the first 'Womens' Day' in England was held at Ruskin
College, Oxford - at a workshop called 'A journal of feminist and social
historians'. It was a series of meetings for better working conditions.
At this time some Leftist men opposed women voting partly because they
thought the women would give their votes to the Tories!
In New York women first got together to celebrate ‘Women’s
Day’ on 8th March 1908, this then went national in America on February
23rd 1909. European Socialists met at the Paris Commune on 18th March
1871 and the first 'International Women's Day' was 18th March 1911.This
was accentuated by the food shortages that were, and had always, affected
Women demonstrated in Italy when food increased in price by 88%. In 1917
in Russia rye bread rose 600%. On the 23rd February Russian women had
an insurrection shouting, "Give us bread". The troops of the
Czar even refused to fire on the women.
The wonderfully named Tiritega Perfect Mawaka from Zimbabwe, a matron
at St. Georges Hospital, has not had a perfect life due to witnessing
her mother's violent treatment at the hands of a brutal husband. Tiritega
was beaten herself by this monster and also saw her mother try to commit
suicide. Luckily this gave her hope to follow her dreams and achieve in
life and never give up.
Anita Grant-Williams a Probation Officer and substance abuse worker who
lived through the Handsworh riots in the 80s was brave enough to tell
us her moving story of living with cancer and of her tough healing journey.
After her harrowing account she told us to look beyond superficial stuff,
like make up, to see the real person underneath.
The Women's Institute speaker Liz Buxton told us its history. Men had
taken more care of their animals than their kids apparently and Adelaide
Hoodless in Ontario, Canada started the organisation to give women a voice
to campaign. The first Women’s Iinstitute in the UK was in North
Wales. That village with the record breaking long name; you know, LLanfair.....goghgoghgogh!!
Amy Hawkins a 17 year old worker with sight loss told us about her inspiring
work with differently abled children running youth clubs for them. How
this young woman had put on a performance with them using comedy, dance
and poetry was unbelievable.
My mum, sister and I then attended a 'Style Workshop' with 'Just B You's
Paula Appiah. She had set up her business in 2009 to inspire women to
dress for their own body shape and personality. As Yves Saint Laurent
said "Fashion fades but style is eternal".
There were many workshops, dancing and singing going on as we visited
all the stalls and received gifts, advice and health treats, and met some
truly great women. I'm not sure if the 'Cuts' will allow this event to
happen next year, so we were lucky to partake in this special day for
the Lladies. Many thanks to Sarah Budd who helped organise it.
Comment left by Tracey Dunn on 10th March, 2011 at 17:39
I spent March 8th on Millennium Bridge, London.I was attending a press photo shoot for The Human Rights' campaigners Annie Lennox and Bianca Jagger who were releasing doves for PEACE.