International Women's Day 2017 with Brighton Women's Centre
8th March, 2017
Today is International Women’s Day! For those who may not know, IWD has been observed around the world for about 100 years - always on the 8th of march. The purpose of the day is to keep women’s equality on our agenda, to raise awareness about the challenges we still face as a society and to empower each other to celebrate the achievements of women past and present.
For the second year in a row I volunteered to help Brighton Women’s Centre host their free annual International Women’s Day event. Once again we took over Brighton Dome, filling the space to the brim with stalls, workshops, discussions and debates, opening the doors to the public to join in, learn and celebrate together.
The day went off without a hitch and the event was attended by approximately 3000 people. Children with their families went running to the craft tables to make clay models and paper crowns, gangs of students bought clutches of pin badges from the organisations running stalls and visitors young and old signed up to workshops and got stuck into the packed line-up of activities. Last year I facilitated a workshop called Cultural Sharing, which was an amazing experience for me and quite a privilege as a relatively new volunteer. This year my role covered a few different jobs including set-up at the start of the day, lending a hand coordinating our new volunteers and spending time in the children's area facilitating play and craft. I also did some solid bucket shaking work, making sure that visitors donated to BWC as much as possible.
At the end of the day, once the crowds had left and the doors were closed, some of the events team managed to limp to the nearest pub, collapsing into a chair with a well earned drink. We laughed and enjoyed the glow of a truly amazing moment for all of us. Another successful year. We’d reached so many people and enjoyed ourselves too. We had succeeded in our mission.
It was a year and a half ago that I started volunteering with BWC, nervously attending my first meeting and knowing nobody at the organisation at all. Over 18 months later I feel firmly in the fold of the BWC team and with every event we put on I feel stronger and more determined to do as much as I can. As a culture we really need our women’s centres. We need solutions to the problems we face and we need urgent change in our attitudes and our approach to women.
Did you know in the UK:
- Women still earn 13.9% less than men on average
- Less than 22% of senior job roles are filled by women
- 36% of all businesses have no women at all in senior positions
These statistics are worse still for women of colour and working class women. Looking outside of the workplace, in the UK we find that:
- One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime
- One in three experience sexual violence
- As many as two women per week are killed by a current or former partner
Reading these worrying statistics it’s easy to see how much work is yet to be done. Inequality damages our community and impacts all of us, therefore organisations such as Brighton Women’s Centre are everyone’s responsibility to support. BWC’s services seek to prevent these issues from unfolding by treating the route cause, as well as supporting women in crisis and providing positive alternatives for all women across Sussex.
If you would like to know more about BWC you can visit their website here http://www.womenscentre.org.uk/ and you can donate today by visiting https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/brightonwomenscentre
Image credits me, Lauren Clifton and Holly Parkinson.