international women's day 2011

Archive for the ‘Ireland Northern’ Category

for International Women’s Day the usual luvvies implore us to fight for oppressed womanhood all over the world.

They include Annie Lennox, activist, feminist and multi-millionaire; Emma Thompson, award-winning actress; Monica Ali, best-selling author, and Mariella Frostrup, glamorous telly and radio presenter, who told a recent interviewer: ‘I’m always tempted by money.’

They’re regularly off to Malawi or Liberia, Rwanda or Mozambique, photographed with groups of grateful villagers while looking suitably concerned in their eco-friendly bushwear.

Happy International Women’s Day! George Osborne has rapidly raised womens’ retirement age and Lord Sugar says bosses should be allowed to quiz employees about their plans for babies

Of course, the plight of millions of women in the third world is appalling — Aids, female circumcision, rape and poverty blight their existence. But would any of these high-profile female campaigners consider fighting for desperate women here in Blighty?

Many of us lead comfortable lives, but hundreds of thousands do not. Equality and opportunity are meaningless as far as they’re concerned. These celebrity feminists could try scheduling a visit to an NHS ward where every single day, thousands of ignored female pensioners lie quietly dying of starvation because there’s nobody to feed them. And with the NHS about to shed 50,000 jobs, the situation is unlikely to improve.

A recent report revealed the shocking statistic that two-thirds of elderly patients admitted to NHS hospitals do not receive adequate care, and many die completely unnecessarily after surgery.

These female campaigners could pass up a trip to South Africa and try a tour of care homes right here in England, where thousands of women with dementia sit for hour after hour in their own urine, many tied to their chairs in rooms with only the telly for company.

And what about the growing band of young women who left school with decent exam results in the past year and cannot get a job, forced to rely on benefits even though they’re desperate to work? Would any of these middle-class feminists consider employing one as an assistant?

The think-tank Demos calculates the number of jobless young people will grow to 1.2 million over the next five years, even if the economy recovers — double the rate of the Nineties. What kind of future is that? Is that equal opportunity for all?

Women at both ends of the spectrum — the very old and the young — are having a rough time in the UK right now. We have a Cabinet packed with millionaires, and in spite of David Cameron’s weasel words, they’re not very female-friendly.

George Osborne speeded up the rate at which a women’s pension age will rise from 60 to 66. Labour planned to do this gradually, but the Chancellor has decreed that by 2020 everyone will have to be 66 to get a pension, which means a huge number of women will have to stay at work for far longer than they had planned.

Women born before April 6, 1953, will be able to retire at 62, but those born after will end up paying an extra £13 billion in income tax and national insurance — an average of £8,400 each.

As the Saga group said: ‘Women are bearing the brunt of the changes. Pension policy always seems to be made by men, for men.’

When it comes to government, paradoxically, in some African countries, there are more women in power than in the UK. In Rwanda, in 2009, women won 56 per cent of the seats in the lower chamber and 35 per cent in the Upper House. In both Mozambique and Angola, women won 39 per cent of the seats in the lower house.

Many African states have women in high office. Here, just 22 per cent of seats in the Commons are held by women, and the Home Secretary has to combine her demanding job with that of Minister for Women and Equalities. That’s how seriously David Cameron takes women’s rights.

Finally, let’s celebrate International Women’s Day by reflecting on the wisdom of Lord (Alan) Sugar, who told the House of Lords last week he thought bosses should be able to grill female candidates about their plans for babies.

This is the bloke who said the best way to get round the laws protecting women in the workplace was by not employing them. Let’s all write to Lord Sugar and tell him when we plan to reproduce, when we’re going to take the Pill, and when we might have a spot of PMT.

Come to that, why don’t we email or Twitter him the dates of our menstrual cycle, if he’s that interested in gynaecology?

Edited from a longer article at

This is a post to mark International Women’s Day. Join the International Women’s Week and Mothering Sunday Mothers’ March this Sunday:

8th March is International Women’s Day. For one hundred years, women and men all over the world, from Germany to Ghana, from Uganda to the UK, have used the 8th of March to celebrate the achievements of women past, present, and future. Historically this day has also been a time for feminists and all those who believe in gender equality to consider the challenges and struggles we still face. This year certainly gives us pause for thought.

The history of the struggle for gender equality in the UK, and the rise of the welfare state are bound together. Just as campaigners for gender equality helped bring about the creation and expansion of the welfare state, the position of women in our society has improved because of it. The government’s unprecedented and unjustified attacks on the state inevitably therefore have a disproportionate impact on women.

The government insist that ‘we’re all in it together’ and that the distribution of the cuts will be ‘fair’. This is simply not true. They choose to focus the cuts on people who are already the most vulnerable in our society, on those who already face structural and historical disadvantages. The government may have neglected their duty to investigate the impact of legislation on gender inequality, but other people have not, and the results show that women will face a disproportionate burden.

Highlighting the impact of the cuts on women is not divisive and does not disregard the needs of everybody else in society. This was well demonstrated and articulated by the people who organised UK Uncut’s feminist bail-in, and by the protesters who attended, half of whom were men. Feminism, and the struggle for gender equality, are inclusive and can be understood as involving everybody, regardless of gender, in a joint struggle for equality. Drawing attention to the impact on women is a reflection of statistical evidence. It is a fact that women, in general, will be worse affected than men. It is important to know this if we are to understand what the cuts really mean and relate that to the people who will be affected.

Women will, in general, be hit harder than men for a number of reasons. As the Fawcett Society points out, they make up 65% of the public sector workforce and will therefore be hit hardest by job cuts. They rely more heavily on public services such as the NHS, for reasons such as pregnancy and longer life expectancy. We can also expect cuts to many women specific services such as refuges from domestic violence and support services for rape victims. To rub salt into the wound, women will also be expected to bridge the gap where childcare and services for the elderly are removed, directly affecting their ability to work. They are also due to lose out heavily from changes to the benefit system – single mothers will lose 18.5 per cent of their net income; female single pensioners will lose 11.7 per cent. The repercussions of these cuts can be seen already. By the end of last year the number of unemployed women topped the one million mark. Recent figures show that the number of women aged 25-49 on jobseeker’s allowance is now at its highest since records began in 1997. The evidence goes on and on and on.

Still think we’re all in it together? These cuts are not an economic necessity, they are a political choice. UK Uncut has helped to show that there are many alternatives to the government’s shock and awe austerity programme. Closing the tax loopholes which allow the super-rich to dodge their responsibilities is one alternative. Making the banks pay for the crisis they caused is another.

If we want to stop the government, and if we want a fairer society, we have to stand up for ourselves. We can draw on a rich history of ordinary people who have organised, struggled and fought for their rights and their ideals. Like the women who did whatever it took to win the right to vote. Like the brave female Ford workers who took industrial action to win the right to equal pay. Like the UK Uncut protesters who transformed a high street bank into a crèche, highlighting cuts to childrens’ services.

This International Women’s Day let us honour and remember all of those women who have fought and continue to fight for gender equality and let’s promise to protect and build on their victories.

See you on the high streets.

This survey of UK adults, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of EQUALS – a coalition of agencies including ActionAid, Amnesty International, the Fawcett Society and Women’s Aid – reveals significant levels of inequality that still exist between men and women in the UK. The survey results are released on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

The survey sought to establish attitudes towards men and women in the public and private arena; determining whether gender stereotypes are still present today in the workplace and the home. It also sought to establish the biggest challenges facing women in Britain today, find out whether women are thought to be treated equally in our society and measure personal experiences of sexist remarks or behaviour.
Results show that gender stereotypes remain a strong force for both men and women in the workplace and in the home. Women are found to be shouldering a good deal of responsibility for managing the home and looking after the family but encouragingly, findings also reveal that a majority of UK adults – both men and women – aspire to greater equality by stating that many household tasks should be shared equally between men and women.

When asked what are the two biggest challenges facing women in Britain today, ‘balancing family and work’ was cited by almost six in ten people (58%). This was the most frequent answer given by men and women. From a female perspective, the second biggest challenge facing women is thought to be ‘the gap in pay between men and women’ (cited by 23% of females). From a male perspective, the second biggest challenge facing women is thought to be ‘being judged on their appearance rather than what they do’ (cited by 22% of males).

Almost half (47%) of women in in the UK do not believe they are treated equally to men with only around a third (34%) believing they are treated equally. On this measure, men and women have almost reversed views. Only around a third (35%) of men do not believe that women are treated equally with just over half (52%) believing women are treated equally.

The survey also measured personal experiences of sexist remarks or sexist behaviour. Sixty per cent of young women (aged 15-30) surveyed have experienced sexist remarks and other forms of sexist behaviour whilst going about their daily lives, including being whistled at, having sexist comments directed at them, being touched inappropriately or being discriminated against because of their gender. The survey revealed that British women experienced this across a variety of places with the most likely being at work, in a pub, bar or club, at school, college or university and in the street. Fewer young men have experienced such comments or behaviour (20%) and their reaction to it is quite different. Whilst these young men are more likely to have felt amused the last time this happened to them, the young women are more likely to have felt angry.

* Download the topline results (PDF)
* Download the data tables representing the full sample (PDF)
* Download the data tabls presenting the results for females in the sample (PDF)
* Download the data tables presenting the results for males in the sample (PDF)

Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,028 adults aged 15+ across the UK. Interviews were conducted face-to-face over the period 11-17 February 2011. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

4 March 2011 18.00 to 25 March 2011 21.00

* Collective Art Exhibition, covering art in many mediums. Works from Artists, Zoe Murdock, Deepa Mann Kleer, Fiona Goggins, Lisa Malone, Joanna Karolini and more..
* Lawrence Street Workshops 1a Lawrence Street (off University Street), BELFAST, BT7 1LE
Organiser: Lawrence Street Workshops: Lawrence Street Workshops is a collective of artists who work in all mediums. Situated in century old stables the venue has been described as a “Tardus” and “Magical”

7 March 2011 10.00 to 14 March 2011 17.00

* Changing street names to recognise the contribution women made in creating this fine city. Various locations throughout Belfast.
* Falls Women’s Centre Women’s Information Group Women’s Support Network, WOMEN’STEC, BELFAST, BT15 2GE
Organiser: WOMEN’STEC: In recognition of the contribution that women have made to the creation of this fine city, but have been overlooked in history. Street signs will be on show for the week and then displayed in the women’s centres.

8th March 2011 from 10.30am to12.30pm

* Celebrating 100 years of working towards equality.
* Don’t spare the bannors/facepaints and bring your drum lets have some fun.
* There are workshops organised to make banners, sash’s, placards etc so if your interested contact Helen Crickard 028 9074 9810
* March from The Art College, 25-51 York St, Belfast to the City Hall
10.30am – March to City Hall – Rally 11.45am
Organiser: International Women’s Day 2011


From 5th – 13th March 2011 Belfast FemFest will be running a festival of events as part of the wider celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

We’ll be hosting a range of authors, artists and activists whose work will remind us of the need to keep standing together in solidarity to build a strong, independent feminist movement in the 21st century. There’ll be something to challenge you, something to entertain and something to celebrate. Get involved!

Belfast FemFest is a collaboration by Alliance for Choice, Belfast Feminist Network, Women’s News and Eclektric.

05 March An evening with Catherine Redfern and Ann Rossiter
Where: Crescent Arts Centre
When: 05 March from 19:00 to 22:00

06 March FEMINA: A gender-luscious poetry gathering.
Where: Crescent Arts Centre
When: 06 March from 19:00 to 22:00

10 March ‘Dark Waters’ art exhibition: special FemFest viewing
Where: The Station Gallery
When: 10 March from 18:00 to 19:30

11 March Erotica at the Big House + Eclektric
Where: The Pavillion Bar
When: 11 March from 19:00 to 01:00

13 March My mother, sister, daughter, wife : A pro-voice performance
Where: Cresecent Arts Centre
When: 13 March from 20:00 to 23:00

RSVP for each event via facebook page – see link below

Keep an eye on this page and event listings for further details!

Launch date of ‘Women Make Music’ to coincide with International Women’s Day celebrations on 8th March 2011.

PRS for Music Foundation is launching an exciting opportunity to celebrate the work of women composers, to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011.

Women Make Music is an open call for proposals from music organisations, festivals, ensembles, promoters and venues in the UK to commission a new work by a woman composer with whom they have not worked before.

Financial support of up to £5000 is available, and new music in any genre is welcome, from classical, jazz and experimental, to urban, electronica and pop.

This call aims to raise awareness of the gender gap between music creators and contribute to raising the profile of women who are creating new music in the UK.

Chair of PRS for Music Foundation, Sally Taylor said:
We are launching this call because we want to raise awareness about the funding we offer to music creators and encourage more women to come forward for this support. By promoting role models for future generations, we hope that we will be encouraging more women to think about making a living as a music creator.

Imogen Heap, who is performing at the Women of the World Festival on March 11th endorses this call and encourages women to apply:
I know they’re out there, I’ve met and heard of a few, but would love to know more and hear more as we’re only hearing one side of the story!

Emily Hall, whose song cycle written for Mara Carlyle will be premiered during the Women of the World Festival, said:
The Women Make Music call is a great way of drawing attention to the support that is available from PRS for Music Foundation and I hope it inspires other women to think about applying.

Applications for ‘Women Make Music’ will be accepted from 8th March 2011 – International Women’s Day. There are 2 deadlines for applications on 13th May and 8th August 2011.


For details of how to apply for Women Make Music please visit

Women Make Music
* A unique funding opportunity for momen music creators. Launching on International Women’s Day 8 March 2011
* We want to raise the profile of women who are making music in the UK.

Are you:
* a woman creating and performing new music of any genre?
* an organisation commissioning a new piece of music from a woman you have not yet worked with?

Yes? Then you may be able to apply for up to £5000.
* Who we can support and how we can support them
* What we hope to achieve through Women Make Music.
* Why this call
* Women Make Music: The background

Find out about our previous work in the music gender discussion and there’s some useful links here too.

From 8th March 2011 you will be able to apply for our Women Make Music fund.

For all links including application process (from 8th March) go to

Poster and Story Competition for Schools and Colleges

The NI Equality Commission is inviting your school/college to take part in a competition to mark the Centenary of International Women’s Day on 8th March 2011.

International Women’s Day is a global event which celebrates the achievements of women, past and present, across the spectrum of political, social, scientific, economic and cultural life.

The centenary presents a unique opportunity to highlight the contribution women and girls have made over the last hundred years and to bring attention to the issues still facing women around the world.

This initiative is part of our wider Equality for All campaign.

To view the letter sent to Principals with information on how to participate download

To download the competition flyer go to

Entries by 7th March 2011

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