On Friday I attended the International Women’s Day event in Oxford as part of the Oxford International Women’s Festival. The event was put on by Oxford Reclaim the Night, we started with a march from Cowley Road to the Town hall and then a celebration event at the Town hall. It was pouring with rain but this did not put off the intrepid women of Oxford.
Reclaim the Night is a women-only march against sexual violence and for gender equality. It was amazing to see a large group of women of all different ages and races getting together and chanting “yes means yes and no means no.” It is really scary when you hear the statistics that 1 in 3 women worldwide will be experience rape or other violence in their lives and about 1 in 10 in the UK.
Marching through the streets of Oxford we picked up women along the way and there was an overriding positive response from the public, horn beeping, cheering, photo taking. I only heard one: “F%&king lesbians”. My favourite moment was seeing a lady watching the march. The smile on her face was beautiful, you could see that she was touched by what she saw and secretly wanted to join in.
Once we reached the town hall we were greeted by a room full of men and women. There was tea and cakes for all. There were poignant speeches about the importance of International Women’s Day. Natalie Brooks speech really stuck out to me, Natalie works for Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre. What chilled me about her speech is that she pointed out that Oxford is lucky to have this service. I can’t help but think that there is something wrong when I have to consider myself lucky that if I were to get raped that I could get help.
On a more positive note, the speeches were followed by performances from the Young Women’s Music Project. This made me incredibly happy, the performances from these young women were spine tingling amazing. One young woman Mary James stood out to me. At 14 years old I was impressed by her musical talent, she performed three songs that she had written herself, she reminded me a little bit of Kate Nash. What really impressed me was she started her set by stating that she feels that men and women are not equal in the music industry. Mary I could not agree with you more, but projects like the Young Women’s Music Project give me hope.
All in all it was an incredibly moving, emotional and inspiring evening. It reconfirms in my mind that there are some truly brilliant women out there tirelessly working to give women the opportunity to succeed. Women like Natalie from OSARCC and Zahra from the Young Women’s Music Project. I am really excited to know more about what they are doing.
Organiser Natalie Brook from OSARCC gave me a little bit of a low down on her thoughts of the event: “We were delighted that so many women joined together on the streets of Oxford to demand an end to violence against women. Our speakers and performers were fantastic and, for me, it was a great opportunity to speak about the work of Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre. We had lots of positive feedback from the women and men who came along – for many of whom Reclaim The Night is their first march or activist activity.”
Here is a little video of the singing at the end of the march:
And you can see more pictures on the Fe-line Women Facebook page.
Lots of love and campaign banners,
When you start your own business or start doing your own thing, it is at times very hard to monitor how well you are doing. Working on your own can make you quite critical of what you are doing, and I know I have the tendency to focus on the negative and not the positive, so when I receive positive feedback about Fe-line Women it means the world to me.
Silvia, has spoken at two of our Word of Mouth events this year: How to improve your emotional wellbeing and To blog or not to blog. She has become a really important part of the Fe-line Women community and her kind and generous words sum up exactly what I wanted Fe-line to be twelve months ago
“I want you to know that Fe-line Women, especially ‘Word of Mouth‘ has been a great inspiration to me and has given me an incomparable space to grow as an entrepreneur. I have got to know so many wonderful, interesting women and made lovely friends, including you; I have learnt a lot about marketing, promoting and, most importantly, about myself (who I am and how I want to present myself to the outside world). I had the opportunity to speak on an event of yours, which was a huge challenge but gave me an immense boost into the right direction. I learnt speaking confidently (and shamelessly) about my work and what I have to offer. You are an energetic, warm-hearted, generous woman, and I admire your courage and how you have proven to the world that it is worth pursuing your dream. I have no doubt that you and your venture will grow steadily and bring you as well as your associates and followers lots of success and happiness. Thank you for being you and for giving Oxford women a fantastic platform to support each other, share experience and show off their gifts to the world.”
This is the best Christmas present I could have, I said originally, if I only help one person then it is worth it. It has definitely been worth it and I too have changed beyond believe due to the amount of inspirational talks I have heard at Word of Mouth over the last year. It continues to fascinate and amaze me how many inspiring women there are out there. In 2013 I just want to continue to support and show off the brilliant and amazing things that women are doing.
Thank you Silvia and thank you to every single one of you that has made it a long to a Fe-line Women event this year. See you in 2013.