by Bridget Owen
Celebrated annually across the globe, International Women’s Day is used to create awareness surrounding the biggest issues faced by women, such as equality, abuse and poverty.
This years event, held on 8th March will be the 102nd IWD, and has been celebrated since around the beginning of the 20th Century.
One of the most famous British examples of this movement is Emmeline Pankhurst of the Suffragettes, who through political activism helped women win the right to the vote.
This year’s topical theme for International Women’s Day, ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’.
MP Theresa May spoke earlier this month of domestic violence in a video released to coincide with Women’s Day- after worrying figures were received from charity Citizens Advice who reported of attacks from 13,500 people in 2012, 80% of which came from women.
A new campaign to stop domestic violence went ahead in February this year. ‘Is This Love’ aimed to get people to think about how to spot abuse in a relationship. The worldwide dance protest took place on Valentine’s Day, and over one billion people in over 200 countries danced to say no to sexual violence for One Billion Rising – Rise against Impunity. It aimed to raise awareness and empower those who have been affected.
Valerie Monti Holland, a Philadelphia-born drama specialist runs several women’s support groups in Sheffield including ‘Left Luggage’ and ‘Mothers and Daughters’.
Through a range of socio-drama and acting methods Valerie delivers a creative style of training, facilitation and community engagement to help those across the private and public sectors. By using these methods in her support groups enables members to have a voice.
Valerie explained why she chose this idea for the group, “I have a 15-year-old daughter, and my mother died shortly after her birth. I wanted to help people explore their relationships with their daughters. It also opens the group to more women – all women are daughters!”
The ‘Mothers and Daughters’ theme was developed to explore the relationship between the family members but also provides a place for women over the age of 18 to discuss their issues with others.
She explained that through being the mother to a teenage daughter makes many of the issues raised by Women’s Day particularly worrying, particularly young women that are influenced by the sex trade.
“For a lot of the women that come to support groups, it’s important to feel some connectivity to others. It feels good to be recognised as part of a movement.”
Valerie holds support groups once a month from NHS Centre of Sexual Health, Nether Edge, Sheffield. You can contact her on twitter : @left_luggage or by telephone on 07738851873.
“On the 102nd International Women’s Day there is much to celebrate. The maternal mortality rate fell by half between 1990 and 2010, girls’ education is improving significantly and women now make up 40% of the global workforce – all signs of immense progress” – OXFAM
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