The launch of the International Women’s Day Festival was celebrated in the Black Box on Tuesday with pizza and wine. Tables in the Belfast venue were crowded with people wanting to learn more about IWD on 8th March and the many events on offer this year. They were treated to the premier of a special video created by Jenny Bell, which featured well-known women from across NI and the UK talking about what IWD personally means to them. Fidelma Carolan a Commissioner from ECNI and Belfast City Councillors Bernie Kelly and Deirdre Hargey - who were both instrumental in ensuring IWD received official backing from Belfast City Council this year - also spoke in person about the significance of the festival. The night was rounded off with a thorough run-through of the IWD 2014 programme, which features everything from conferences to live comedy. Many of the event organisers came along to speak directly with the audience. Events discussed included: • A self-defence class at Shankill Women’s Centre. • The launch of Lenny the Leprechaun, a new fantasy book by local woman Margaret McShannock from Windsor Women’s Centre. • Pageant with a difference, Alternative Ms Ulster, which will be held at Stormont. • A series of lectures and workshops in the Ulster Hall. • Grace Petrie’s upcoming gig in McHugh’s Bar. • A screening of domestic violence documentary, Marta’s Suitcase. • The Haass-O’Sullivan: What do women think? Conference from WRDA. WRDA’s Director, Anne McVicker, took to the stage last to urge people to come along to the centrepiece of the IWD festival – a huge rally in the centre of Belfast on 8th March.
She said, “This is the first year the rally has been given official backing from Belfast City Council so we need to get the biggest turnout ever. It’s on a Saturday for this first time as well so hopefully people who previously had to miss it because of work will be free to come along and get marching. It really is going to be fantastic and everyone, woman, man or child is welcome.” The rally will gather for 12pm at the Art College, then make its way to the City Hall for songs, speeches and a buffet. For more on this event, or any of the others, just follow this link to the official programme.