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International Women's Day Observed in London

London, UK - An observance of UN International Women's Day 2013 was organized by the Universal Peace Federation and its friends and supporting organizations on March 13 in the House of Commons, hosted by Mr. Virendra Sharma MP.


"I was not into women's issues when I was elected as an MP at age 29. I was passionate about global poverty, peace in the middle east etc. That lasted until I was about one hour in Parliament. Then I realized I could not keep quiet," Baroness Oona King explained during the UPF celebration of the International Women's Day 2013 in the House of Commons. There were a number of prominent women figures speaking including Lady Fiona Hodgson CBE; Baroness Sandip Verma, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Climate Change; Baroness Oona King; Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece OBE; Seema Malhotra MP, Charlotte Simon, Co-founder of Mothers of Congo; Cllr. Mrs Mimi Harker, Mayor of Amersham; and Brita Fernandez-Schmidt, Executive Director of Women for Women. 

Lady Fiona Hodgson, who had just returned from the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, described the intensity of her time there. She explained that the conference was the secondLady Hodgson Baroness Verma largest in the United Nations but many at the conference believed that the Commission on the Status of Women does not get the media focus it deserves. She explained that there were still negotiations ongoing to come to a common position on the topic of violence against women.

Baroness Sandip Verma explained that the culture she grew up in led her to believe her brothers could do so many things that she could not. She gradually became rebellious to challenge this unfairness. She commented that it was tragic that it needed a horrendous incident in India to raise awareness of violence against women. "There has to be a partnership with men to solve this problem," she said.

Baroness Verma continued to say that "one mother approached me in the corridor in the House of Lords to say her daughter had attended a UPF (Universal Peace Federation) event and it led her to decide to enter into politics to make a change!"

Baroness Oona King talked about visits to Rwanda and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. There is a lot of talk about preventing violence against women, but in some places little has changed. She commented that security systems must be put in place to protect women.

Charlotte Simon talked about the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. "Britain cannot turn away," she said. "We will not spare any efforts in saving lives."

Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece talked about her experiences as a community worker hearing stories of domestic violence. "More women politicians are needed," she said. She added that women often need to be asked or encouraged to step into politics in order to make a difference.

International Women's Day 2013 from Universal Peace Federation International



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