Amnesty International Society celebrates IWD

"This is what a feminist looks like."
Image: Rachel Kitching."This is what a feminist looks like." Image: Rachel Kitching.

International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual event that’s been observed since the early 1900’s, was celebrated around the world on Wednesday 8th March.

It is an annual celebration of the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world and aims to tackle the inequalities that women still face.

Key areas that IWD is aimed to address includes challenging bias and inequality, campaigning against violence and for equal education, forging women’s advancement, celebrating women’s achievements.

The annual worldwide event, is not affiliated with any one organisation, but brings together various charities, businesses and governments.

Here at Newcastle University, Amnesty International Society and Women for Women Society teamed up to celebrate women’s achievements and to call for an end to gender inequalities.

They focused on female leadership figures and the gender pay gap as well as the general concept of feminism.

Members of Amnesty International Society and Women for Women Society ran a stall outside of Students’ Union, which hosted a bake sale, informative leaflets, posters, and a collection box for hygiene products for women.

They also provided an interactive activity, where passers by could get involved and contribute their ideas of what women’s rights means to them, and also have a photograph taken of them holding a ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ photo frame.

Natasha Chalk, president of the Women for Women society, said:

“IWD is crucial- there are still so many challenges that women all over the world face. Women for Women International directly targets women in countries of conflict – supporting and helping these women recover from violence, persecution and helping them become economically independent. IWD is a vital tool for us to go that bit further and highlight the importance of women in ALL our societies and the deep connections we share as women in the 21st Century.

The stall was extremely successful and we raised money towards both Amnesty international and WFF international. What was the encouraging aspect was the amount of men who came along and had their photo taken in support of women all over the world. It was a fantastic platform to talk about feminism and clear up stereotypes around its meaning and significance.”

With the plan to gain a big social media presence, the societies collaborated with York and Durham universities that where hosting similar events at their respective campuses.

Uploading collages of photographs from the day, all with the shared hashtags #beboldforchange (International Women’s Day campaign), #wewontwait (Amnesty International campaign) and #internationalwomensday, encouraged a high level of awareness across the region through social media.

The students also managed to raise over £100 in cake sales. Sophie Glover, president for Amnesty International Society was pleased with their success, saying:

“it was great to see so many people willing to bring cakes and getting generally involved in the day”.

Amnesty International will receive half, which will go towards general human rights campaigns, whilst the other half will be sent to Women for Women, who provide support and valuable skills training for women around the world affected by conflict and war.

Glover suggested that International Women’s Day is still a fundamental event for women to “show support for, and raise awareness of, women’s rights issues and to fight gender inequality, not just in this country, but globally”.

Glover was referring to worldwide issues such as the high percentage of girls without access to education, forced marriage and motherhood, FGM and the lack of females in leadership roles.

However, the stall maintained a positive and empowering atmosphere, with images of successful and powerful women such as Ellie Simmonds, Emma Watson and Michelle Obama, and the day followed a series of social media posts including empowering quotes and images of women such as Malala Yousafzai, Lupita Nyong’o and Angelina Jolie.

Glover described the day as a huge success, and said it was:

“a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and their contributions to society”.

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