International Women’s Day 2016 at Brighton Dome with Brighton Women’s Centre
8th March, 2016
Today - the 8th of March - is International Women’s Day.
It’s a chance for us to acknowledge and celebrate the cultural, economic, social and political achievements of women around the world and throughout history, as well as an opportunity to review the work that still needs to be done worldwide to achieve gender parity.
The Saturday just passed, I was at the Dome in our hometown of Brighton, celebrating International Women’s Day with hundreds of people at the Brighton Women’s Centre’s annual event.
This year was set to be the biggest year to date, and as a relatively new volunteer for the Centre it would be my first year working at this event.
Months of planning, booking, designing, marketing, coordinating, liaising, and literally thousands of emails had gone into this, and as I sat on Friday night painting a life-size cut-out of two Suffragettes i wondered nervously whether we’d got it right and if anybody would even turn up…
People did turn up. In their hundreds. Families, groups of friends, students, elderly grandparents and people from all over the world flooded into the Dome to take part.
The rota of activities included workshops (everything from beat boxing and singing to self defence and sewing), performances from local talent, an all female debate panel, art exhibitors, information stalls, activist groups, therapies, kids art spaces and lots more.
I was asked to run a workshop called Cultural Sharing, which was a space for the international community of Brighton to come and share their experiences of being a woman in their culture. Women from every corner of the globe came and shared their stories and some were happy to sing traditional songs. I asked everyone to mark their homeland on our world map, which by the end of the day was studded with pins in nearly every single continent.
Swarti, who is a friend of the Women’s Centre, sat in my workshop for the day offering henna hand painting - which was extremely popular among visitors. I managed to sit still long enough to have my own hand painted.
Speaking to little girls, mothers, friends and a huge variety of women about their experiences was very special. I meditated on the thought that we are extremely lucky to exist in a society that is proud to celebrate and champion what women have achieved, considering that less progressive cultures internationally do not have this privilege, let alone basic human rights for women.
It was a brilliant day and I learnt a lot (not least the importance of having comrades to bring you food and coffees when you’re on your feet for 5 hours at a time). I’m already looking forward to next year, and seeing how the IWD movement will continue to grow locally and internationally.
If you would like to learn more about the Brighton Women’s Centre, International Women’s Day or the event that took place on Saturday, please visit the following links: