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IWD 2014 celebrations draw in the crowds and WRDA!


Females of all ages and from all walks of life in NI – as well as a good few males - gathered together on Saturday to mark International Women's Day 2014 and celebrate the strength of women across the world.

IWD Rally 2014A Belfast rally, staged by women's collective Reclaim the Agenda, drew in a procession so large it covered most of Royal Avenue as everyone made their way up to Belfast City Hall for speeches and a buffet. WRDA staff were among the marchers, as were representatives from many other women's organisations.

Reclaim the Agenda’s Kellie O’Dowd, young activist Maedhbh Bermingham and Alliance MLA Anna Lo all addressed the rally. They each received a great response, despite some disruption from (mostly male) flag protestors.

Anna Lo spoke about the need for more women to enter politics and help bring an end to the years of tribalism at Stormont. Currently, only a small minority of MLAs and Councillors are female. Anna said, “We need women to come into politics to help create a better and more balanced society for us all.”

Many of the people who attended the rally also made it to Alternative Ms Ulster in the evening. This pageant with a difference had no contestants competing for a crown. Instead women walked down the steps in the grand hall at Stormont and shared with the audience what they would like to see change for local women. Creativity was encouraged.

WRDA took part, using ‘magic’ to transport attendees at the event to the year 3000 in the NI Assembly, where women led all the major parties, but men were in the minority. The tone of the presentation was tongue in cheek, but it ended with the serious message that such a situation would be unacceptable, as is the underrepresentation of women at all levels in decision making today. This sentiment was echoed by many of the other speakers.

Additional issues raised included:
• The prejudice still experience by transgender, lesbian and bisexual women living in NI.
• Women’s right to express their sexuality how THEY want and to dress however they like (whether they want to dress down or up).
• The damaging way women are sometimes portrayed in the media and the effect this has on young girls.
• Dangers currently faced by women in other countries. One speaker drew attention to the plight of Mexican women and girls who are being preyed upon by traffickers in Mexico.

Stiff Little Fingers closed the night in great style with a performance of many of their well-known songs, including Alternative Ulster.

There are still a few local events left in the International Women's Day calender. Check out the programme here.

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