‘Women have been socially, culturally and economically conditioned to defer to men, to take our lead from men, to behave in ways approved of by men. On this particular day, we want women to come and feel the strength, the exhilaration and power of being with other women, to celebrate ourselves, to sing, shout and chant at the top of our voices, in all our diversity, to demonstrate however we want because we’re women in the company of other women.’ – Million Women Rise Coalition.
This weekend, the women of London took to the streets in a mass demonstration to support women everywhere and wish them a very happy International Women’s Day! On 3rd March 2012, hundreds of women marched down London’s streets in protest against male violence against females. The annually held demonstration is organised by the Million Women Rise Coalition, a group of women united by mutual outrage at male violence against women.
UK government statistics report that one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life, two are murdered every week by a partner or ex partner, one incident of domestic violence is reported to the police every minute, and nearly 90% of local authorities do not have a rape crisis centre. Yet, the government and the media do nothing to attempt to put an end to this widespread mistreatment of women in the UK. Instead, women are often accused of bringing this mistreatment upon themselves because of the way they behave or what they wear. But now, Million Women Rise are bringing together women from all over the country to fight for our gender and our rights.
Based in London, Million Women Rise are responsible for the national demonstration held every year against violence towards women. The movement was started in 2007 by Sabrina Qureshi who was frustrated that nothing was being done to combat the violence against women occurring on a daily basis. Qureshi decided that she would be the one to try and raise awareness about the issue, her passion making the movement what it is today. The annual march starts at Orchard Street and ends at Trafalgar Square, where an inspiring rally of speeches is held to motivate women and girls everywhere to keep fighting for the cause. Million Women Rise also have smaller groups around the country that organise events in their local areas.
The march on Saturday was a huge success, gaining a spot on the 6 o’clock BBC news that evening and quite a large picture in the Independent the following day. Women and children gathered in unity to say, ‘enough is enough’ and put an end to all forms of violence against women. Expressing their mass dissatisfaction at how not enough is being done to protect women, their strength and unity in large numbers were overwhelming.
Twitter user, @TheRealSGM tweeted from the march, describing it as ‘truly an amazing day with amazing women.’ Another, @str_angela_nd voiced her demands as she marched with fellow females, ‘we want an end to sex object culture. We want an end to sexism in the media!’
The demonstration was primarily about ending all forms of violence against women, but this year Million Women Rise decided to focus on women’s organisations in particular. ‘Many of them have had their funding slashed or taken away completely and the whole sector has been depleted and is continuing to shrink,’ explains Nina Kelly from Million Women Rise. ‘So it’s about raising awareness about the fact that that’s happening and really just calling for a properly resourced government strategy to deal with it, which we certainly don’t have at the moment.’
If you’re based in London or nearby, be sure to keep yourself updated on the organisation’s activities through @MillionWomen or visit their website, where you can also check out pictures and speeches from previous marches. ‘Today we march because we matter,’ says Anna from Object Update. Make sure you join the cause and support women and girls everywhere to put an end to the disheartening injustice towards our gender.