A special march took place in London yesterday, Mothering Sunday, to mark International Women’s Day.
Public figures including singer and activist Annie Lennox, public rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, London mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan, and International Development Secretary Justine Greening joined hundreds of people at a rally organised by Care International at London’s Scoop Ampitheatre.
Lennox, 61, took to the mic and urged “any woman or girl or man” to continue the fight for equal rights, adding that “all men must be feminists.”
Referring to the Suffragettes, Lennox said:
“They were sacrificing themselves for us… to have access to the democratic vote, to education, to job opportunities — the fight continues. The problem is in our country we have amnesia. We forget that people sacrifice so much to give us the things we take for granted.
“As a mother, I’ve realised I’ve got such a privileged life and I’ve seen the disparity, so I feel indebted and I feel that I must stand in solidarity. To be a mother is a very wonderful thing — please remember that around the globe there are women delivering babies today — those girls that have no access to healthcare, to reproductive health protection… have a moment to reflect on that.”
Dr. Helen Pankhurst — great-granddaughter of the Suffragette founder Emmeline — also spoke at the rally. She said she couldn’t think of a better way to spend Mother’s Day, adding that she was “really honoured” and “proud” to have such a revolutionary ancestor.
However she reminded the crowds that there was still a need for solidarity and activism.
“It’s about celebration, it’s about being together, it’s about sisterhood,” she said. “We can do that in many ways, we can do that through social media but there is still a value in being out in the streets, walking together shoulder to shoulder as the suffragettes did 100 years ago.”
Dr. Pankhurst also asked people to think “about the many refugees who have trekked hundreds of miles to find safety, many of them mothers, forced to carry their children from one danger zone to the next.”
After speeches from survivors of female genital mutilation, politicians and feminist campaigners, the march began with Dr. Pankhurst and her daughter leading the way. Among the marchers were a crowd of suffragettes in period dress and wearing sashes emblazoned with the slogan “Deeds not words,” who sang and chanted feminist anthems.
The Walk In Her Shoes campaign is asking people to raise money for Care International by walking 10,000 steps a day from March 21 to 27. As part of the charity’s Help Her Live Learn and Earn campaign, every pound raised between now and June 4 will be doubled by the U.K. government — with the extra funds going directly to water, sanitation and women’s rights projects in Ethiopia.