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UK Feminista Rally - "It's fun being a feminist" (from November newsletter)

November 12, 2012 2:00 PM
By Sue Vincent

On Wednesday 24th October I, along with a few other members of the WLD, went to the feminist rally and lobby of parliament organised by UKFeminista. The purpose of the event was to give our MPs information about five issues which are important to woman and to get them to promise to put these issues at the top of their agenda. The five issues, in a nutshell, were abortion rights, childcare, objectification of women and girls, violence towards women and girls and the treatment of women who apply for asylum.

Before the mass lobby of parliament, a rally was held in Church House, Westminster. About 400 women of all ages, ethnic groups and political varieties (although judging by the reception Amber Rudd got when she spoke, not many Tories!) Short speeches were given by Yvette Cooper MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Amber Rudd MP and last, but not least, WLD Chair Dr Miranda Whitehead. Miranda's speech was very well received, especially the parts where she showed how sexism had affected her as a medical student. This was followed by speeches from the organisations concerned with the five chosen issues.

Then came a magical moment - the Olympic Suffragettes (who had reformed especially for the occasion) marched into the hall and onto the stage, in full Suffragette dress, carrying banners, and singing "March of the Women". It was a wonderful ending to an inspiring rally. The Olympic Suffragettes then led everyone out to Parliament Square.

Banners (Jessie Cohen and Guy Bell)

From left to right:

Sue Vincent, Louisa Winnik (WLD Coordinator), Miranda Whitehead and Vera Head (WLD Treasurer)

Thoroughly fired up, we made our way to the queue to get into the House of Commons to lobby our MPs. The queue was long (about an hour) so it was an opportunity to chat to new people. Some lucky people had MPs who had already made appointments to see them but my MP had failed to respond to my email so I 'green carded' him - that is that once I got into the Lobby, I sent him a 'green card' asking to see him and telling him what I wanted to talk about. After about an hour of waiting (trying to understand the announcements of which MPs had arrived in the Lobby on one of the worst PA systems I have ever encountered), I gave up and went off for a coffee. Sitting in the Lobby was actually quite fun - spotting famous MPs etc and chatting to other women attending the Lobby.

I felt very uplifted after the event, as did all those from WLD who attended. I intend to take up the invitation sent by my MP a couple of days after the rally to make an appointment to visit him at his constituency surgery (he said he had not seen the green card on the day). I am not sure how much attention he will pay to the issues highlighted by UK Feminista as he is a very right wing Tory and has a huge majority but we have to keep on trying!

Sue Vincent, WLD executive member