The centre of Belfast was treated to a feast of music and colour on Saturday, March 7 as hundreds of women marched from Writer’s Square to Belfast City Hall for the annual International Women’s Day march and rally.
They included the Belfast Feminist Network, the Rainbow Coalition, Women’s Centres such as Footprints, North Coast Women, Ballybeen Women, Windsor Women’s Centre, and Trade Unions such as NIPSA and Unison.
The marchers were accompanied by drums and a guitar orchestra and singers, adding to the party atmosphere.
The women, some of whom were dressed as Suffragettes, sang and chanted slogans as they marched down Royal Avenue to hear passionate speeches from a range of speakers, including Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon.
Other speakers included Raquel Hosein an award-winning engineering and mathematics student from New York who was invited by the organisers to promote the subjects where young women traditionally under-achieve.
And Nandi Jola a South African human rights activist and poet who now lives in Northern Ireland; Naomi O’Connor a leading trade unionist with NIPSA; and Margaret Ward a young woman from Youth Action NI who performed a rap version of her speech. MC was Orlaith Hendron, women’s sector lobbyist.
The theme of IWD 2015 is ‘Make it Happen’ promoting the rights of women across the globe but Northern Ireland has its own theme – ‘No Peace Without Women’ and there have been numerous events already looking at how the women of Northern Ireland helped create and sustain the peace process.
This year’s International Women’s Day celebration is the largest ever, with more than 50 events taking place across Northern Ireland throughout March.
Anne McVicker, Director of the Women’s Research and Development Agency (WRDA) said:
“The fight for equality for women throughout the world continues. International Women’s Day is about celebrating the role of women in every facet of society from politics, workers’ rights, culture and the arts to our place in history including the essential part played by women in maintaining the fabric of society during the two world wars.”
To find out more information go to http://www.wrda.net/Documents/IWD_booklet8PPA5Digital.pdf