Monday, 9 March 2015

Million Women Rise - Saturday 7th March 2015

Guest blog by Nicky Amos, Somerset Federation

The Million Women Rise March takes place once a year, in London, and aims to raise awareness of all types of violence against women and children. It starts at Duke Street, near Selfridges in Oxford Street and ends two hours later in Trafalgar Square.

I am Chair of Public Affairs for Somerset Federation and have always been very supportive of the WI’s ‘No more Violence Against Women’ campaign.

As I planned to be in London for that weekend anyway, I gathered together a few friends and family, and with NFWI approval and the WI slogan “The WI, making a difference” in mind, I decided to take part.

I had a few reservations.

One was health and safety. Would it be safe?  I need not have worried. The police had closed Oxford Street and there were lots of MWR stewards ensuring the March went according to plan.

Another worry was, who would turn up? I had contacted the organizers before hand and they were a bit vague about the arrangements and the numbers expected.

I need not have worried. Lots of different organizations had come. There were several thousand of us altogether spread out all along the route. It was a very impressive sight. The sun shone, people chatted and the atmosphere was very convivial.

We were all given chant sheets and the lovely lady in this photo did a very good job of getting us all responding. Lots of people had drums and whistles. We made a great deal of noise.

I’ll be honest; I’m not a very extrovert person. Chanting in Oxford Street in front of many thousands of tourists and a few TV crews is not my normal cup of tea. But buoyed-up by the atmosphere, our group soon joined in enthusiastically.

Did we do any good? Did we raise awareness of the issue?

Frankly, before we set out I was sceptical. But people were standing three deep all along Oxford Street and Greek Street watching us pass. Many were filming us on their cameras. Lots clapped. The organisers passed out postcards telling by-standers about the organizations Million Women Rise supported.

Some tourists looked bemused. One told me marching was illegal in his country. Lots of people stopped to talk.

After stopping traffic in Shaftesbury Avenue, Haymarket and Piccadilly Circus we ended in Trafalgar Square, for a very welcome cup of tea.

Would I recommend your WI took part next year?

A resounding yes. I have never been on a march before. What an experience! My party all loved the entire afternoon. I will remember it for ever and I genuinely think we did make a difference.

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