International Women’s Day: Marching for peace and equality!
Thursday 8 March saw women, men and children in London march across Millennium Bridge and all the way to the South Bank Centre to stand in solidarity with women across the world calling for peace and equality. Charities, student groups, unions and primary school kids all passionately chanted songs calling for equality and respect and 2012 was the first year Restless Beings took part in the Join me on the Bridge Campaign, organised by Women for Women International. This collaborative march allowed different organisations and individuals to come together and stand in solidarity for women's rights, achievements and struggles. For Restless Beings it was a fantastic day to share our organisation with passersby and other charities intrigued by our work and motto's. Our t-shirts caught the eyes of many and allowed us to talk about the Restless Beings projects to a variety of people.
The march was led by a mixture of celebrities and human rights activists, including Bianca Jagger, Patti Boulaye and Cherie Blair, and were accompanied by an all girl choir called Gaggle. The march ended with everyone crossing Hungerford Bridge, releasing our white balloons for peace and finally we all ended up at the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank, where speakers included Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development, Natasha Walters and Helene and Laura Pankhurst.
On the day we had a couple of amazing volunteers to help us spread the Restless Beings message by handing out leaflets, modelling our amazing t-shirts and answering questions about us. Riding high on the success of Restless Beings' Bride Kidnapping campaign on Valentine's Day, many people were genuinely interested and shocked by the issue of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. Some individuals had never heard of Kyrgyzstan, let alone the problem of bride kidnapping that many young Kyrgyz women face.
Not only was the day a sunny success but marching in solidarity with people passionate about women's rights, and in general human rights, was uplifting and a great experience. A personal highlight was a group of primary school girls marching and singing in front of Restless Beings. They were fiercely loud in taking charge of a loud speaker and were calling for equality, respect for women's rights and peace. Restless Beings strongly believes in getting the youth active and vocal about human rights and this march highlighted everyone can get involved and inspire us to take action.
International Women's Day has been observed since 1908 and annually on the 8 March thousands of events have been held across the world to mark and celebrate women's achievements. Whilst we celebrate women's achievements, it's also important to remember and reflect on the many inequalities that still remain. In Kyrgyzstan many women are kidnapped to become brides each year and subsequently are forced into marriages with some experiencing physical violence, such as rape. Bride kidnapping has been criminalised in Kyrgyzstan's laws; however, law enforcement agencies still perceive bride kidnapping as a cultural act rather than a criminal act. Not only is it illegal and a grave human rights violation, it also compromises the legal status of young women as many marriages are unregistered.
For a taster of the day, check out the pictures below from the march!