Million Women Rise: The London Protest

For International Women’s Day today I thought I’d do a feature on Million Women Rise. On March 4, 2023 I attended a march led and organised by black women of the coalition Million Women Rise, a collective working towards ending male violence against women and girls.

We gathered by the side entrance of Selfridges in Duke Street, before setting off down Oxford Street on our route towards Trafalgar Square.

Despite a huge amount of humour and smiles on display there were very serious issues and messages at the core of today’s event. Honouring women who had been murdered by men; whether as result of personal relationships or by people who were in a position of trust like policemen. No more violence against women. Ending sexual violence. The empowering feeling of women rising in unison, using our voices and holding men accountable for their actions.

Photos and descriptions of murdered women line the London Bus windows

Women’s Institute members in Red

Anniversary of the death of Sarah Everard who was murdered by police officer Wayne Couzens

One of the things that struck me was the creativity I witnessed on the march. This was not just a demonstration with regular placards and signage – there was painting, sewing, embroidery, hand made percussion instruments. Here are some of the photographs I took with special reference to the creativity on display:

Above, one from a series of numbered, embroidered pennants created by the Women’s Institute honouring the 136 lives of women murdered by men in one year.

Medusa Imagery

Latin American Women’s Aid Sign

Make a Noise! It was also great to make a noise – there was percussion, singing and chanting:

No More Violence Against Women percussion instrument

I was marching close to Iranian and Afghani women who are part of the protest movement both in Iran and internationally following the death of 22 year old Mahsa Amini in September 2022 whilst in custody of Iran’s morality police. Chanting Women, Life, Freedom and Mahsa Amini as a call and response and saying no to compulsory hijab:

A shopper enters Selfridges alongside a sign featuring the image of Mahsa Amini and demanding the right to choose the wearing of Hijab

Flowers in her Hair

It was also good to bump into DJ Ritu. I first met Ritu when we worked at BBC London and she now has a regular global music programme on Resonance Radio. Ritu has also been a supporter of The London Lucumi Choir, playing our music on her show, inviting us to perform in the studio and broadcasting interviews with me and choir director Daniela.

DJ Ritu (on the right) with friends from Ireland and Holland

At the march, Ritu also bumped into photographer Elainea Emmott who took this photos of us. That’s me in the pink beanie:

Photograph by Elainea Emmott

Next, some more photos from the march featuring the participation of children, multi-generational attendance and further glimpses into the variety of signage, humour and creativity on display:

Silicone spatula spoon with NO MORE violence against women sticker

Links: Million Women Rise

DJ Ritu

Elainea Emmott

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