Windsor and Slough Labour Party branches reinforce gender equality in their community
The Windsor and Slough Labour Party branches believe International Women's Day provides an important opportunity to engage their local community about gender equality issues.
The Party delivered a two-day series of events to engage their local community and increase awareness about women's equality.
On International Women's Day, the Party dressed as Suffragettes and marched through Windsor carrying placards and wearing rosettes in the Suffragette colours of purple, white and green. The placards and rosettes carried the slogans ‘End the Rape Clause’, ‘Give us bread but give us roses’, ‘End period poverty’, ‘Our bodies our choice’, ‘Affordable childcare for all’, ‘End the gender pay gap’, ‘End pension poverty’ and ‘Equal pay now’.
While marching, they sang ‘The March of the Women’ written by Ethel Smyth in 1911 and dedicated to the Women's Social and Political Union. They organised a stall in the main street, festooned with materials obtained from the IWD website. While talking to local people about matters important to women including period poverty, universal credit and reducing the gender pay gap, they conducted a poll to see what was most important to the women. Relevant literature was distributed instigating much discussion between women and men.
Advancing feminist issues within the Party
The following day they organised a women-only session to gather ideas for increasing participation in the Labour Party and to discuss what more could be done to tackle under-representation and increase female membership. Activity consisted of a social and debate in Slough with five speakers - four current Labour councillors and one who had previously held office. The presentations and discussions focused on issues regarding how separate branches address issues of commonality. The Party posed questions like: How do we advance feminist issues within our party and how do we promote women’s issues as elected female politicians and activists? Many useful comments were recorded in the group's evaluation including next steps for the Party to take forward.
“The events in Windsor brought together women who actively support International Women's Day and attracted other women who wanted to find out more and to talk about what concerned them," said Margery Thorogood, Press Officer Windsor Labour Party and an organiser of the event. "It was a great celebration and something we will repeat next year. One woman even proclaimed that it is International Women’s Day every day."
Collaborating for equality
This was the first time the two local Labour Party branches jointly organised a combined event for IWD. Key members of both branches collaborated on aims and actions for the activities including a women's march in full dress with relevant songs and a community stall with useful materials and activities to engage the public.
The UK's TUC was contacted to supply relevant materials about IWD and trade union activity/history. A workshop was also organised for members to make placards, rosettes and further resources.