international women's day 2011

Please visit our IWD blog for 2012 to keep up with IWD events, requests for volunteers etc.


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Time: 12.30pm – 3.00pm
Venue: Harold Road Centre, 170 Harold Road, Plaistow, E13 0SE

Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women

Speaker: Rita Chadha-Bolt (Director)
Refugee and migrants forum for east London (RAMFEL)

Activities: cultrual performance, poetry etc

Free food and drinks served.

For further information contact Sarjoh (Conflict and Change) on 020 8552 2050 or Prity (Newham Monitoring Project) on 020 8470 8333.


Other IWD events in April:
* ’42′ Women of Sierra Leone until 15 April 2012 – Liverpool
* Images of Black Women Film Festival 2011 – 8th to 10th April 2011 – Tricycle Cinema

Professor Ruth Pearson on Celebrating International Women’s Day

As we celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March, Ruth Pearson, Professor of Development Studies discusses why after 100 years, this major day of global celebration is as significant as ever.

Podcast: Celebrating International Women’s Day [MP3: 1.7MB] [5 minutes]

In a special “A message to Emily” three part radio documentary journalists Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones OBE criss-cross the State Rooms of Speaker’s House to record interviews with women parliamentarians across party and their guests while they celebrated together 100 years of International Women’s Day.

On 2nd April 1911 a lone suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison hid herself in the broom cupboard in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, in the crypt of St Stephen’s Hall, Westminster, on the night of the census so that she could give her address as the House of Commons.

100 years later there was no need to hide. The Speaker John Bercow opened the doors of his State Rooms to the women MPs from all parties with their friends and special guests from campaigning organisations to mark the Centenary of International Women’s Day.

Emily who died after pinning a sash to the King’s horse at the Epsom races would have been wide-eyed at being allowed into the State Rooms, Speaker’s House, House of Commons. The 16th March party was organised by three women MPs Mary Macleod MP, Kate Green MP and Jo Swinson MP from Conservative, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

If walls could have ears? No need – Women’s Parliamentary Radio journalists Linda Fairbrother and Boni Sones captured this sound portrait in this special three part documentary “A Message to Emily?

The Home Secretary and Minister for Women, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP told
· “Lynne Featherstone MP has taken on the responsibility as International Champion on violence against women, we have worked hard on violence against women and girls. I chair an inter-ministerial group on Violence Against Women and Girls, it brings all departments together, DFID and others, and we will be able to champion the need to deal with violence against women internationally which blights the lives of many.”
· “To those who say we haven’t done enough I would point to the work we have done. We have published a strategy against violence against women and girls, we have found a permanent solution to women fleeing domestic violence, we have been able to find extra money for rape crisis centres and produce sustainable funding for them the next three years. “
· “In the Home Office despite all the budget cuts we have been able to protect £28 million of expenditure over the next four years for dealing with violence against women and girls, I think we have made some very important steps. We are great supporters of the new UN Agency for Women, and we are looking for that agency to be able to promote the needs of women across the World.”
· “My message to Emily would be we are not complacent and we are still fighting.”
Yvette Cooper MP, the Labour Shadow Home Secretary said:
· “Domestically the issue is making sure we don’t turn the clock back on progress and that you don’t narrow women’s opportunities instead of expanding them. Internationally there are still huge issues in terms of violence against women, and their participation in the political process and debates about women’s lives as well”.
· “It is always right to have international debate and international solidarity about opportunities for women in every country in the World and we have to make sure that is part of British foreign policy it is not just something that is dismissed or ignored. It is also about listening to women’s experiences in other countries and hearing what they themselves are saying.”

Jo Swinson MP, the Liberal Democrat PPS to Vince Cable said:
· “On women’s representation we have moved this issue forward we have got more women elected. There are still barriers we need to address in terms of the way Parliament works and issues of how you juggle the demands of being an MP with family life, and the wider social issue about how men and women split caring responsibilities and the pay gap, standing for Parliament is not cost neutral.”
· “There are a lot of talented women out there who look at Parliament and say “why would I want to be part of that?” We have a job to do in selling the job. Women MPs love the job they do and they can make a difference in their communities and this is the bit that gets lost we need to say “this is why this is a great job to do!”
· Speaker Bercow said:
· “International Women’s Day reminds us that we have a duty in whatever our capacity to do something to make a difference for women internationally. These rooms are State Rooms and what better use than to use them to fight the cause for women and equality. We congratulate the trail blazers but there is still a great deal to do and we must get on to do it!”
· “We’re celebrating women in Parliament, but crucially for me is the fact that however many battles we think we have to fight here in the UK, there are women in the World with far more serious circumstances to deal with and we must never forget that.”

Boni Sones, Executive Producer of said: “ would like to thank all those who gave interviews to us to celebrate and record for the social history books our “Message to Emily? three part radio documentary to celebrate 100 years of International Women’s Day. Special thanks to the Speaker John Bercow MP, for allowing us into the State Rooms, and to the organisers Mary Macleod MP, Kate Green MP, Jo Swinson MP. It was as ever, great fun, to be with so many committed and passionate women in one room and hear their special messages to the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison. Women’s Political representation was an issue many told us needed to be put to the fore in our Parliament.”

In Part One Boni spoke to:

Caroline Adams from the women’s Parliamentary Labour Party and organiser, Barbara Gorna and Joan Lane film producer. Vicky Booth, Diversity Officer for the Liberal Democrats, Fiona Mactaggart MP and Lydia Simmons. Barbara Keeley MP, Fawcett acting CEO Anna Bird, Sharon Hodgson MP, Sue Tibballs of the Women’s Sports Foundation. Joan Ruddock MP and Councillor Joan Millbank. Maria Eagle MP and Yvette Cooper MP.

In Part Two Boni spoke to:

Baroness Elspeth Howe, Baroness Hussein-Ece. Cherie Blair and Sarina Russo. Lorley Burt MP and Helen Berresford, Kealey Hastick from Platform 51. Helen Grant MP and Martha Kearney BBC journalist. Harriet Harman MP, The speaker John Bercow MP and last but not least the most senior woman in the Cabinet, the Home Secretary and Minister for Women Theresa May MP.

In Part Three Linda spoke to:

Nan Sloane from the Centre for Women and Democracy, Margaret Beckett MP, Baroness Ramsay, Kate Green MP, Lesley Abdela from Shevolution, John Bercow MP, Caroline Spelman MP, and Lee Chalmers of the Downing Street Project, Liberal Democrat supporter Dinti Batstone, Jo Swinson MP.

Part of a longer press release at

You can listen to or download the podcast from the home page of the web site and then scrolling down to this section

On the 100th International Women’s Day, the Women’s Budget Group would like to emphasise the need for the 2011 Budget to introduce measures that will rectify gender inequalities.

Read in full at

Three Queen Mary academics – Professor Kate Malleson, of the Department of Law; Dr Rainbow Murray, from the School of Politics and International Relations; and Dr Hazel Conley, from the School of Business and Management – talk about the triumphs and struggles of British women, economically, politically and in the legal sphere in the last 100 years, and the ongoing fight for gender equality.

* Professor Kate Malleson – International Women’s Day [MP3 4.08 MB]
* Dr Rainbow Murray – International Women’s Day [MP3 3.89 MB]
* Dr Hazel Conley – International Women’s Day [MP3 2.86 MB]



You can download and read feedback on York International Women’s Week from

York International Women’s Week 5th—12th March 2011 – see original list at

Annette Lawson is chair of National Alliance of Women’s Organisations in Britain. She has an OBE for services to diversity and is founder and Chair of The Judith Trust, which works for better lives for people with both learning disabilities and mental illness needs.

Chaos reigned last year at Commission on the Status of Women 54 which was known as Beijing+15 since it was 15 years since the fourth world ‘Women’s Conference’ had been held there on Equality, Development and Peace.

This chaos resulted from a total lack of preparedness on the part of the United Nations for the arrival of thousands of NGOs seeking to hold U.N. member states to account for the continuing inequalities and injustices still suffered by women globally.

The U.N. knew the numbers and had not worked out how to deal with the lack of space caused by the reconstruction of parts of the U.N. buildings. The paranoia of NGOs gathered there deepened as we were excluded, forced into interminable queues and were unable to work on any outcome document known as agreed text – important because that text provides lobbying material.

This year the U.N., with its great launch of U.N. Women, the new entity which merges others — especially UNIFEM and the Division for the Advancement of Women — into one, sought to improve access in these difficult conditions arising because of the continuing reconstruction. Indeed, despite hugely conflicting information ahead of the time, we finally had some good advisories about what we really would need and mostly registration happened quickly and simply.

Everyone came with multiple copies of everything in order to be sure of ‘getting in’. But ‘getting in’ did not mean you actually could ‘get in’ to the U.N. North Lawn building where most intergovernmental meetings and high level panels were held.

No. You had to queue each day for the one additional ticket per each NGO for a morning and an afternoon session on the following day. Then, for specific meetings organised by governments or the EU, say, you needed a ticket from that organiser. I attended an excellent panel run by the Bangladeshi U.N. Mission launching work on a Human Right to Peace which is thoroughly gender-aware.

These tickets had to be picked up in person within the hour beforehand. So if you were attending something else – most likely an NGO event outside the building – you would have to leave it or miss it to get the ticket. And when one did get in, there was no room to sit, except on the floor which in one’s seventies is no mean accomplishment.

I would rather not have to invent my self-worth as measured by this particular accomplishment. Rather, I would like to have been able to see the faces of the remarkable panellists especially when their mother tongue was not English.

We, women’s organisations based in the UK, were particularly concerned about this year – the first in 41 years – when we have not had the Women’s National Commission (WNC) able to act as liaison for us with the official UK government delegation, and, via them, to the voice of the EU, for, at CSW, the EU speaks with one voice through its Presidency – Hungary this year.

In an act which I have described as vandalism, the coalition government in the UK has abolished the WNC and taken over some of its functions by transferring them to the Government Equalities Office (GEO). This was part of the government’s austerity measures – to reduce expenditure on advisory bodies known as quangos – and also because its ideal includes a smaller State and much greater localism.

Alas, some of the good went out with the less necessary and in the view of every women’s organisation I know, the WNC, whatever its faults and nothing is perfect, is a great loss to us.

We are urging each other to view this as an opportunity and the Geo has instituted a couple of really helpful new ways of communicating – through a newsletter just for those attending CSW and with a special CSW email address.

One of our number, Jan Grasty, the president of the body which has taken over from UNIFEM (UK) called U.N. Women (UK National Committee) led the liaison while Zarin Hainsworth of the Baha’i was instrumental in providing space for morning meetings of UK NGOs and also much meeting space for our side-events in their international offices right beside the U.N.

The UK’s Ambassador to the U.N. hosted a reception as usual for us and the mission also welcomed us to evening briefings with expert UK government representatives willing to talk to us.

However, there is a steep learning curve both for the GEO and for us as a less coherent body and we learned much less than usual about the content of what was happening on the text and within the EU.

This year’s main theme was on education with a special interest in science, engineering and technology and women’s access to decent work. It is difficult to provide helpful suggestions as to how the language might be changed if we do not know where the hang-ups are.

Since we were also so restricted as to which intergovernmental sessions we could attend, we were not able to sit in on negotiations and that changes the character of the relationship between governments and NGOs. During the second week, the few remaining women from the UK met in the hotel room of one of their number to work together – I was not there but clearly new mechanisms are being created!

Anything that reduces the access of civil society, in this case women’s organisations, to meetings that are making decisions that fundamentally concern us, is a matter for distress and campaigning. Any action that prevents women’s organisations from being a vital influence at the U.N., flaunts the hopes and the rationale of the system established by Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945.

But, two brilliant things happened: the launch of U.N. Women; and side events put on by a ‘Youth Caucus’ of which 16 young women and men with an average age of 16+ were accredited from the UK (7 by my organisation, NAWO, the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations, and others by Widows Rights International) and this was organised by the brilliant Zarin Hainsworth.

Next time I am forced to sit though some conference where a speaker turns her or his back on the audience, cannot be heard because they haven’t a clue how to use a microphone, read the text of interminable and illegible, boring, non-pictorial overheads, I will ask that they get a sixth-former please to teach them how to present.

These young people had done their research, created their presentations – mostly without power points which was just as well since the system broke down – rehearsed them and stuck precisely to time. You could hear everything they said and they were a joy to watch. They also did some dramatic roles which were terrifyingly good – especially ones showing violence against girls in a session it was my pleasure to chair, Say No Now.

And finally there was U.N. Women! It was such a thrill to sit in our accustomed NGO gallery above the great General Assembly and watch the videos and listen to the amazing line-up of speakers all completely committed to the vision and the implementation of this U.N. initiative which has the capacity to create a really different, more equal, more just world for women and for men, boys and girls.

And it was heartening that here at least the role of NGOs was seriously understood and recognised. And thanked. We who had been in at the beginning all knew what the GEAR campaign (Gender Equality Architecture Reform) had accomplished – we knew we would not have been sitting there at this launch without it.

Led by women in New York, the GEAR campaign had reached out across the globe and had regional networks all involved. In Europe, our own European Women’s Lobby was the recognised network and NAWO and our sister organisations in the devolved countries of the UK had signed up to it at the ‘off’.

No better Chief Executive than Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s woman President, and no better president of the new U.N. Women board, Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, a rare female foreign secretary, could have been chosen to be in the driving seats.

With Ban Ki-Moon, secretary general of the U.N., behind it because: “It is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.”

It remains for us to get our governments to fund it so it can work on the ground to transform the lives of the poorest women, and at the highest levels of international government to transform cultural attitudes that exclude women from the tables where global decisions are made.

With so many IWD events having taken place, it would be great to hear how your event went.

So if you have a report, or can send a link to an already published report on the internet, or maybe some photos or a video, please let us know so that we can add it to this year’s IWD blog.


Please use out online form at

An evening march through Galashiels last Friday was a fitting climax to 16 days of action, organised by the Scottish Borders Violence Against Women Partnership.

The so-called Reclaim the Night march through the town centre, which was co-ordinated by the region’s Rape Crisis Centre, attracted a large crowd of women, men and children.

“The idea was to reclaim the night as a safe place with a demand that we end the silence and end the violence,” said Andrea Beavon, Scottish Borders Council’s Violence Against Women (VAW) co-ordinator.

Last month, Ms Beavon reported to councillors that the cost of addressing domestic abuse and violence could be as much as £50million a year in the Borders alone, when criminal justice, police, health, social services, loss of economic output and legal costs are taken into account.

And she won approval for a new project involving a more co-ordinated community approach to produce better outcomes for women, children and the perpetrators of violence. The new service, which is applying for lottery funding, will be a first point of contact for victims and their children.

The 16 days of action initiative was timed to coincide with this month’s International Women’s Day.

Highlights included the 104 Shows exhibition in Melrose on March 12.

“This protrayed the reality of domestic abuse for many women and demonstrated the need to raise awareness,” said Ms Beavon.

“Shoes from Annie Lennox and J. K. Rowling and many other celebrities told of the symbolic importance of shoes being ‘the way out’, but also portrayed the struggles many women can identify with of being constrained by shoes which don’t fit.”

Meanwhile Vagina Monologues in the Heart of Hawick was a sell-out.

“Feedback from the entire programme, especially the march which attracted much attention and was safely marshalled by the police, has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Ms Beavon.

“It is the first time the Borders has taken part in the 16 days of action and we hope in can be repeated with more people playing a part in ending violence against women.”


red women's symbold with continents superimposed repeatd 5 times

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