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Yay! It’s MWR tomorrow!

And I’ve been sent the press release:

WOMEN-ONLY MARCH TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

On the eve of International Women’s Day, thousands are expected to participate in the biggest women’s protest since the Suffragettes or the Greenham Common Women. Female protesters from across the United Kingdom will take to the streets of central London on 7 March 2009 to demand an end to all forms of violence against women.

Marchers will assemble at 12 noon in Portman Square W1H, before marching through the heart of London’s West End, down Oxford Street and Regents Street, past Piccadilly Circus, to congregate for a rally in Waterloo Place at 2.30pm.

Confirmed speakers for the rally include actress Cathy Tyson of Band of Gold and Emmerdale fame, who will read from the celebrated Vagina Monologues, and Margaret Moran, MP for Luton and Chair of All Party Group on Domestic Violence.

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered south London teenager Stephen, has also spoken out in support of the march.

She says;“Violence against women has no place in a civilised society. We cannot claim to be a just and fair society when so many of our citizens are being abused on a daily basis simply on the basis of their gender. Violence against women must end and that needs a fully resourced national strategy. Every woman deserves the right to live her life free from the threat of violence. We must do more if that dream is to become reality”

This year’s march, organised by the Million Women Rise Coalition (MWR), follows their successful demonstration last year, which saw a 5,000-strong gathering of women march from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square on International Women’s Day 2008. It will be as much a celebration as a demonstration, with drummers, performers and brightly coloured banners to spur the women on.

The 2008 event was a resounding success, and many were surprised that this grassroots-led initiative, with its very limited resources and its total reliance upon volunteers, was able to deliver such an amazing show of solidarity and strength. This year’s march is expected to draw an even bigger crowd.

The reasons why so many ordinary women from all corners of the country are determined to make their voice heard are vast in number, but to name just a few:

  • 167 women are raped everyday and only one in five attacks is reported to the police. (Amnesty International)
  • Up to 1,420 women per year are trafficked into the UK for sexual exploitation.(Home Office)
  • 250 cases of forced marriage are reported each year in the UK. (Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
  • One woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life. (Amnesty International)

Sabrina Qureshi, MWR Coordinator, was recently awarded the Emma Humphries Memorial Prize and was named in the Independent as one of the “new pioneers of feminism”. She says: “As long as women and children experience rape, sexual and domestic violence, we will protest. As long as women and girls are forced into marriage and suffer female genital mutilation, and are abused and murdered because of some perverse idea of what constitutes “honour”, we will not stay quiet. We will shout from the rooftops that every woman has a right to live her life free from the threat of gender-based violence. We will fight for that right to be heard, upheld and respected. If you share a vision of a world where women are treated fairly and equally then join us on 7 March 2009 and help make a real difference”

In addition, the march, rally and MWR demand that:

  • All political parties unite in developing a fully resourced national strategy that enables women and children to live lives free from the threat of violence.
  • International Women’s Day be declared a public holiday in recognition of the achievements and contributions of women in the United Kingdom and worldwide.

One woman who attended last year’s march told one of the speakers “My sister was killed by her ex husband last year after years of abuse. I have never been on a march before in my life but I am here today because of what happened to her. It has to stop. My sister is dead but I have to do something to stop it happening to anyone else. Why isn’t anyone listening?” She then began to cry.

Further details can be found at www.millionwomenrise.com

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