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International Women’s Day marked in Norfolk

Barbara Bryant  Marguerite PhiLast week on International Women’s Day over 130 Norfolk women came together to celebrate the skills and achievements of women around the world who sustain families on next to nothing, reports Barbara Bryant of Norwich Diocese Mothers’ Union.

At an event titled ‘Managing on the Margins’ on Friday March 8, 10am – 3pm the Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes, in partnership with the Mothers’ Union, the 4women Resource Centre and UEA School of International Development brought together a variety of groups to highlight the issues of women on the margins, the work already being done and future actions. 
 
Brenda Arthur, Leader of Norwich City Council spoke with passion about the challenges faced by many women in the city, with over 7000 children living in income-deprived homes. 
 
Naomi Herbert Reg Dev DirectorVibrant stories of women mobilising their communities to find solutions for their own problems were shared by Naomi Herbert, Regional Development Director of Mothers’ Union worldwide (pictured right).
 
More global perspectives were shared by Professor Nitya Rao from UEA School of International Development while Rowena Hagger-Utting, Development Co-ordinator at the 4women Resource Centre brought the focus back locally by sharing stories of many of the women who come into their centre.
 
“This was an excellent opportunity to mark International Women’s Day – bringing together those of us who are passionate in our support and belief of the vital roles played by women around the world,” said Marguerite Phillips, Mothers’ Union Norwich Diocesan President (pictured above alongside Barbara Bryant on the left).

The event held at Norwich Central Baptist Church included a “market-place” of over 20 stalls representing different organisations and groups working with women, from girl-guiding to women prisoners in Peru, offered a snapshot of the wide variety of ways women support one another around the world.

 
Organiser of the event, Mary Dorrell, said: “The aim of the day was to give women inspirational ideas and knowledge with which to strengthen their work in the community.”

Interactive workshops and a lively panel discussion with representation from political parties enabled participants to have their say on issues affecting women and the families they support.  From outcry at the controversial proposed “bedroom tax”, to seeking assurances that the UK international aid budget would not be diverted towards military spending, the discussions were as wide-ranging as the women represented at the day.
 
In a challenging environment, a central theme emerged – that of women sacrificing their own basic needs to put those of their families first; women as members of communities offering support to others; women claiming their rights despite the obstacles they face; women in the role of human rights defenders driving social progress.


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