Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (IWD) 8 March 2019
The woman’s face lights up when she is offered the daffodil. “Happy International Women’s Day,” we say, as she takes the flower with a look of surprise.  She then reaches for her purse, but is told that the flower is for her, for free, in recognition, principally, for women’s suffrage, but also for women’s rights to equal pay and working conditions.
“How lovely”, she replies, ‘something free for a change.” And when asked if she planned to vote in the upcoming local elections on 2 May, she was most emphatic with her response.  “I always vote!” And we cheer!
This woman was one of dozens of women whom our Labour Women’s Group met on Friday 8th of March, a day that was formally designated as  International Women’s Day, by 1914, despite the fact that women didn’t get the, vote until 1918. By 1975, the United Nations began celebrating this date and, in some countries, it is a national holiday.
Last year was the 100th year anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, and to celebrate, our local group of women created a colourful banner marking the event. Since then, it has been carried at various events, including in Folkestone and Hythe. This year we wanted to highlight the forthcoming local elections in May by visiting New Romney, and encourage the women to use their vote, a right so hard won.
We set up outside Elsie’s Café, and whilst giving out daffodils, we discussed the issues facing women today. Some of the issues discussed included: childcare; caring for elderly relatives; flexible working hours to assist women who find they are sole carers at home; and the scandal of period poverty that sees girls missing days at school because they can’t afford sanitary products. On this last subject, we were able to highlight the The Red Box Project – a volunteer led initiative that provides free sanitary products (all donated by the local community) in schools in New Romney and Lydd. 
Alongside these discussions, there was laughter, generous and mutual support, many, many smiles, and even a few new voters who promised to register. A great day out!
We have a dedicated Women’s Forum, which meets every month to campaign about women’s issues at home and in the work place. For more information, please contact news@fhlabour.org.uk.


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