In her regular column highlighting charitable projects and services, Link4Growth volunteer Debra Oakaby meets a local champion of women’s causes prior to a big event on Saturday
International Women’s Day was first celebrated by the United Nations (UN) on 8th March 1975, and in 1977 it was proclaimed as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace. In some countries, it is even a public holiday!
Locally, the Waltham Forest Women’s Network (WFWN) has been organising celebrations on this day for more than ten years. This year the celebrations are being held on Saturday, 5th March, from 12pm until 6pm at the Great Hall, previously known as Leyton Town Hall. This free event is for women only and there will be a crèche for children of up to twelve years’ old.
Prior to the occasion I caught up with Karen Flint, the vice-chair of WFWN, a voluntary organisation with seven committee members. Karen told me the theme of their event this year is ‘Hear My Voice’. It is aimed at empowering women to speak up, especially if they are in crisis.
We know that women and girls experience violence in many different forms simply because of their gender, including sexual violence, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and more. And this is also happening on our doorstep.
Waltham Forest Council’s Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy for 2014-2017 states the borough has the seventh-highest rate of domestic violence in London, and that these represent more than one third of violent crimes against people. In the last year, nearly 2,500 such offences were recorded in Waltham Forest.
Another obstacle to gender equality is the gender pay gap, which means that women, especially if they have children or other caring responsibilities, are at risk of living in poverty.
WFWN offers support, shares information and liaises with different communities in the borough.
Karen and her colleagues are working flat out to make this year’s International Women’s Day a wonderful celebration. She said: “WFWN provides you with a safe environment and a platform to listen and be inspired.
“Come along and enjoy the stalls, entertainment, food and speakers.”
I have personal experience of running a Link4Growth community stall at an event for International Women’s Day and I am looking forward to doing it again this year. I am told that hundreds of women are expected to attend and I cannot wait. This is a great opportunity to meet ordinary women doing extraordinary things.
We can all contribute to making gender equality a reality, and you will get plenty of ideas and inspiration at IWD. Men, you can help too by supporting the women in your life who want go to this event, and making it a priority.
For more information about Waltham Forest Women’s Network (WFWN):
Link4Growth organises regular community networking events in Waltham Forest. For more information:
Call Debra on 07906 007 613