Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A busy week at WRC

Phew! Last week was a busy one for WRC, with the evening launch of our new research followed by a full-day conference.

On Monday evening, the WRC team travelled to Westminster, where we welcomed guests from across the women’s sector, the wider voluntary sector, MPs and representatives from the UN. The purpose of the event was to launch our new research, Not just bread, but roses, too, which maps the women’s sector across England, with an emphasis on funding to the sector (or lack of it). We heard from Dubravka Siminovic (former chair of CEDAW) and Dr Nicola Brewer (chief executive EHRC), who drove home the importance of funding to the sector, especially with regard to the obligations set out by CEDAW.

As if all that excitement wasn’t enough, on Tuesday, we welcomed over 100 delegates (in partnership with EHRC) to the Human Rights Action Centre, where we enjoyed a day packed full of opportunities to hear from experts on CEDAW, participate in workshops and to make a start on women’s sector strategy for CEDAW 2011. There’s a full report of the conference on our website, along with links to some the organisations that attended and information on further action. The sheer numbers and enthusiasm at the conference made it a truly inspiring (if exhausting) experience!

If you missed out on these events, we got pretty snap happy, so why not take a look at our photos?

Together we’re seizing the opportunities of CEDAW!

Monday, 9 March 2009

WRC joins the Million Women Rise march

The drums, the whistles, the chanting, the sea of red banners... Women marching down the centre of Oxford Street on a busy Saturday afternoon to mark International Women's Day... Bemused (and sometimes supportive) shoppers and workers looking on - including a standing ovation from the Toni & Guy hairdressers... Women's organisations coming together in solidarity from across the country... Together we can end male violence against women...

The sun shone on this year's Million Women Rise march and the atmosphere reflected that - friendly, together, positive - despite the serious messages and placards. There was a real sense of reclaiming space from the shoppers, mannequins and advertising slogans as we marched through Oxford Street and Regent Street.

The atmosphere became more sombre at the rally following the march, where people gathered to listen to inspiring and moving speakers. Some told incredibly moving tales of survival and recovery, others read messages of solidarity from across the world, still others recounted the horrific violations of women taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sri Lanka.

Anna from Object spoke about their actions to combat the increasing objectification of women, a speaker from the Women's Institute spoke about domestic violence and the fact that rural women often bear the brunt of the postcode lottery in violence services, and Ruth Bashall spoke about the abuses perpetrated against disabled women worldwide and the solidarity and strength they provide to each other. All the speeches were translated by the indefatigable sign language interpreter.

For a great sense of the march, see this fantastic video by warriorgrrl. See our pictures here and some other fantastic pictures by Jess McCabe here.

One woman. One body. One song. One love.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Happy International Women's Day (or Weekend)!

It's that time of year again, when (some) of the world's attention turns to women. There are loads of actions, events and celebrations going on. Here are just a few things you can do:

* MARCH! Million Women Rise - thousands of women will march through central London tomorrow in an act of solidarity and protest against male violence against women.

* CELEBRATE! Take some time to think about the women who have inspired and encouraged you in your life. When you've done that, why not let them know? Give them a call, bake them a cake, write it on your blog or Facebook page, shout it from the rooftops - whatever will make them feel valued. You could even make a donation in her honour to your favourite women's organisation - Rosa (the UK women's fund) lets you dedicate a donation to a special woman in your life by giving her a special rose in Rosa's online garden.

* CAMPAIGN! Lobby your local council for better provision for women who have experienced violence. Go to www.mapofgaps.org and use the template email there.

At 1.10pm today, hundreds of people changed their Facebook statuses and twittered messages about violence against women in Britain, after AmnestyUK sent out a call to action. You can see the Twitter messages here.