The organisers of International Women’s Day (March 8) in Northern Ireland are vowing to leave no woman behind as they celebrate the achievements of women and look to the challenges ahead.
The theme of this year’s celebrations is No Woman Left Behind which will be the focal point of more than 50 events throughout March from art exhibitions, food festivals, talks, launches of academic reports, music, poetry and films, all celebrating the role that women play in society and reflecting the ongoing campaign for equality.
The key event in Northern Ireland is the annual International Women’s Day march through Belfast City Centre on March 10 attended by hundreds of supporters including members of women’s organisations, trade unions and pressure groups.
The poster for this year’s rally was designed by 15-year-old Ciara Murray from Carrickfergus who is passionate about feminism and equality issues. She said: “My poster topic was intersectionality – showing how we are all connected no matter what race, class, age or gender. Everyone is equal and I feel very strongly that we stand together.”
International Women’s Day is held annually on March 8 and one of the major events on the day will be the launch of ‘I am Woman: Hear Me Roar’, a new report on domestic violence compiled by Women’s Aid Federation NI held in the Long Gallery at Stormont.
The rights of women have been top of the news agenda in recent months with the #MeToo’ and #TimesUp campaigns; the on-going Gender Pay Gap and the centenary of partial suffrage hard won by the Suffragettes and Suffragists in Britain and Ireland.
Anne McVicker, Chair of Reclaim the Agenda, which organises the International Women’s Day programme for Northern Ireland, said it was a time to reflect on the struggles of the past, celebrate the present and look forward to a future where all women are treated with equality and respect.
“Our theme is ‘No Woman Left Behind’. One hundred years ago the Representation of the People Act left millions of women behind by denying the vote to women under 30 and those who did not own property. Now this society is discriminating against women by denying them reproductive rights, equal pay and denying LGBT women the right to marry. We will come together on International Women’s Day to celebrate all we have achieved but we will never give up the struggle for equality.”
This year’s rally, which meets at Writer’s Square at 11am, promises to be one of the biggest ever, with the Belfast Ukulele Orchestra, three female Roller Derby teams and representatives of Women and State Pension Inequality (WASPI) joining the groups on the march.
Highlights of the programme include:
- Feminist Food Carnival: 5pm – midnight, The Intercontinental, Ravenhill, Belfast, Saturday March 3.
- Book launch of ‘Abortion Wars, the fight for Reproductive Rights’ by NI-born author Judith Orr at 1pm on March 5 at the ICTU.
- Celebrating Women’s Achievements – the experience of Falls and Shankill women in peace building at the An Culturlann, Falls Road on Thursday, March 8
- Still – an exhibition of female artists – 7.30pm -9pm / PS2 Art Studio, 11 North Street on March 8.
- Reimaging Peace with LGB&T Women: 1pm-2pm / Ulster University, Belfast Campus, March 9.
- Market for Choice: 1pm – 5pm / Sunflower Bar, 65 Union St, Belfast, March 10
- #MeToo to #Repeal: 2.30pm – 4.30pm / Hudson Bar, Belfast, March 10.
- Women on Water – boat trips on a Currach skippered by women 1pm – 4.45pm / River Lagan @ Big Fish, Belfast on March 11.
For more information about this year’s International Women’s Day across Northern Ireland go to the International Women’s Day Northern Ireland and Reclaim the Agenda Facebook pages.