120 women of 30 different nationalities gather in Portsmouth to celebrate International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, around 120 women from across Portsmouth gathered in the Victory Suite at Fratton Park on Monday, for an evening that blended cultures and allowed women to share their own individual experiences.

Guests enjoyed speeches and a dinner courtesy of the Akash Bangladeshi restaurant before entertainment from “Asian Female DJ” who provided a mixture of Bhangra, traditional dancing and games – followed by a traditional British barn dance.

Speakers included:

Rowshonara Reza – Community  Development Officer, Independence & Wellbeing Team at Portsmouth City Council.

Poppy Jaman –  CEO and founding member of Mental Health First Aid England who received an OBE from the Queen on Tuesday – grew up in Portsmouth and came down from London for the dinner.

Superintendent Maggie Blyth –  District Police Commander Portsmouth, Maggie has only been in post for 3 weeks so the dinner provided a great opportunity for her to meet some of the diverse groups within the city.

Alex Cuppleditch – Cycling UK, organising an event for local women, mainly muslim, who have never cycled before – their celebration event is on March 8th.

Mandy Webb – Artist, who had a display of her unique life size dresses that demonstrate women’s hidden history.

Rowshonara Reza, who organised the event jointly with Pompey in the Community CEO, Clare Martin said that celebrations like this were important for women everywhere.

She said: ‘There is a real variety of cultures and nationalities here this evening, which is wonderful.

“I think it is very important to understand one another’s differences and welcome them, rather than hide from them.

“For example, women in Islam have had the vote for 1,400 years, whereas it has only been 100 years here in the UK.

“But differences aren’t always looked at in a positive light, and I think that understanding these differences is key to our society. We are all here to have fun and enjoy ourselves, but there is a deeper meaning behind this evening.” 

One of those who attended the dinner was Julie Crook, manager of the Fratton Community Centre.

She said: At the community centre we also see a diverse range of people, so we are very interested in events like this. 

 “If you don’t know the right people it can be tough to tap into certain demographics, so events like this are really important for breaking down barriers between different cultures.”

Clare Martin from Pompey in the Community said: “There are around 30 different nationalities among the 120 women here tonight, which is great.

“I think it is really important to raise awareness of the differences in cultures between women across the world, but also to celebrate them. One of my most memorable moments from the evening was playing musical chairs with Superintendent Maggie Blyth, District Police Commander Portsmouth and Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council – it was fabulous to see everyone giggling and enjoying the evening together!”

International Women’s Day – 8th March

March 8 sees the annual International Women’s Day campaign kick-off for the year ahead, with this year’s theme focusing around #PressforProgress.

Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress. A strong call to motivate and unite friends, colleagues and whole communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.

International Women’s Day is not country, group or organisation specific. The day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. So together, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity. Collectively, let’s all Press for Progress.

To find out more visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/