A Celebration in London of Women's Achievements

UK-2010-03-14-A Celebration in London of Women's Achievements

London, UK - ‘Celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future' was the theme of a March 14 celebration of the UN’s International Women’s Day. A joint project of the Universal Peace Federation and the Women's Federation for World Peace, it was held appropriately on the UK’s Mother's Day.

Rita Payne, a former Editor of BBC Asia and currently the Chair of the Commonwealth Journalists' Association–UK, reflected on the status of women in current developments and her own experience in the media in her speech.

"2010, on the face of it, is not a bad year for women," she said, while pointing to Katherine Bigelow’s Oscar success and the passing of a bill through the Indian Parliament to guarantee  that one third of all Members of Parliament are women. "Maybe the greatest success will be when men and women are judged according to what they achieve than their gender," she said. (Read more.)

In a speech entitled "Women Initiating Change: The Strength of the Outsider," Kat Callo explained the tragic cause of her work as a Trustee of Project Mosaic. Her cousin, a New York City firefighter, died in 9/11 trying to save those within the Twin Towers when the buildings collapsed. She began Project Mosaic, a UK-based educational charity that helps teach young people to be more tolerant of those coming from a different background – whether that’s a different race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or culture.

"Violent extremism," she said, "plays on the theme of  'the outsider' – but it combines it with fear and ignorance, to creates a poisonous cocktail for our young people." With a conversation, over a cup of tea or at a youth club or at a gathering of mothers at a refugee centre or talking with family members and friends. We are working to amplify the voice of the outsider – that person that takes a weakness and transforms it into a strength. (Read more.)

Hadia Saad had just returned from attending the 54th UN Congress on the Status of Women in New York representing the Alulbayt Foundation in London. She also attended the UPF Parallel CSW event in New York. She shared about both experiences. She was left with the sense that there is still a long way to go to obtain justice for women. She reflected on the position of women in Islam that tensions develop when the cultural traditions confine Islamic principles. (Read more.)

Mrs. Ella Marks, President of the  League of Jewish Women, briefly described its history and activities since being founded in 1943. Stemming from a Judaic ethos, Jewish people believe that they should play an active part in the community wherever they live. The League of Jewish Women has sought to educate young women to be both self supporting and train them to be active for the good of all society. It is now affiliated to the National Council of Women as a consultative body. It is also very involved in interfaith meetings and activities. The League of Jewish Women is a largely voluntary body that is an active community promoting service to those in need. She shared that she often reads to blind people.

Ms. Anisha Pabari, a 19-year-old university student in London and an interfaith activist formerly in Geneva, entitled her talk a ‘Wake-up call for young women.’ She has an ongoing project in a non-profit recycling industry in east India. She has also completed a charitable project in August 2008, fundraising for and then building a school in Tanzania.

Anisha emphasised, "I am a human being more than anything else." She saw the values of many of her female peers in the UK who did not understand the simple joy of life experienced by those who live in impoverished circumstances. She mentioned a recycling project she and several others had undertaken to ensure those who scavenge in trash heaps for reusable materials would be paid a living wage. She had discovered that those children, whose families live their whole life in trash, still play with huge smiles on their faces.

Commenting about the afternoon, Milena Ivovic said, "It was very inspirational gathering. Women, outstanding achievers in various fields, were illustrating by their own life endeavours the greatness of human potential in each one of us. They are those who selflessly care for others in society and who know how to give from the essence. Their love and compassion certainly shed light and show the way."

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