Vanessa Boon: Derby gets ready to celebrate International Women’s Day

Local volunteers have been busy planning Derby’s annual festival to celebrate International Women’s Day on Saturday 5th March 2016, 10am-4pm in the Market Place & QUAD, Derby.

The free event gives locals and visitors the chance to join the hundreds of celebrations taking place around the world for Women’s HERstory Month and International Women’s Day this March.

Hundreds of people head to the festival each year for a variety of free entertainment, sports, arts and crafts, foods, inspiring workshops, taster activities and family fun as well as supporting good causes.

The festival is organised entirely by a small group of local volunteers in their spare time. Vanessa Boon, Chair of the planning group, said “Our festival theme for 2016 is ‘we can do it’ so they’ll be plenty of inspiring speeches, workshops, performances and life-changing causes to get involved in”.

She explained that stereotype-busting role models are an important part of the day, adding;

“too many girls grow up never meeting women or girls who play football, rugby, drums or lead guitar. Or see women giving speeches, running a business or trailblazing in fields like science, engineering, IT, rock music, policing and politics – our festival aims to change that”.

10 things to do at IWD 2016:

  • Check out the skills demo by Woodlands girls’ football club at 11am.
  • Take part in a drumming workshop with BeatFeet at 11.30am.
  • Try your skills on the rugby reaction wall with Long Eaton Girls’ Rugby Club all day.
  • Learn some Bhangra dance moves with Desi Dholis and Shakti Arts at 1.30pm
  • Add to the ‘My mother taught me…’ board with artist Alice Kell
  • Join Steps for the Future’s disability-positive dance-along at 2pm
  • Make an empowerment doll for Mother’s Day with artist Rita Kappia
  • Explore the 40+ stalls and taster activities under the Market Place marquee
  • Get crafty with Spiral Arts, The Creative You and Inspirative Arts
  • Pick up a festival magazine full of inspiring local HERoes

Visitors can also join an inspiring workshop at QUAD on the day:

  • 11am What is Wellbeing? With Rashpal Rai, Wellbeing Works
  • 2pm Derby Women’s HERstory with Chloe Mason
  • 1pm My Body My Rules with SV2 and Derby Students’ Union
  • 2pm Just Girls: The Media & Me with Sonya Robotham, Vox Feminarum
  • 3pm Write & Raise Your Voice with local poets and spoken word artists Nafeesa Hamid, Sophie Sparham, Siobhan Fennell, Jo Blackwood, Ria Amber Tesia and an open mic session.

At 3pm Dr Megan McLeod will be giving a talk on Women in Science and Katharine Childs of Code Club East Midlands is running a Coding for Girls session all day at QUAD.

An IWD Derby magazine has also been created with inspiring stories from local women and girls including sports HERoes. The magazine features local girls like Lola Bamford who told us

“I am 8 years old. I enjoy anything to do with football especially playing it! I play for a mixed team with boys and also at a girls centre of excellence. I am a season ticket holder for my favourite football team – Derby County. I have been going to watch them since I was 4! I play in defence and I love tackling the boys as they don’t usually expect me to be very strong – but I am! It shocks them!”

“We especially want to show younger women and girls a wider range of role models than they are usually presented with in glossy magazines, the tabloids, on television and in music videos” Vanessa added. “The festival is a celebration of progress as well as a day to educate about on-going campaigns for equality. It is easy to forget that many of the rights and opportunities we enjoy today were hard fought for, with women like the Suffragettes facing extreme backlash because they challenged the status quo. Many brave campaigners who speak up against issues like FGM, child brides and domestic abuse and who call for global access to education for girls, still face a backlash today. We’re looking forward to celebrating these inspiring sisters – past and present, and motivating everyone to renew efforts to improve the freedoms and opportunities of women and girls worldwide”.

International Women's Day 2016 collage