First Person: Festival can be a catalyst for change

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In January, in the Women’s March, millions of people marched on all seven continents in one of the largest human rights demonstrations in history. Spurred on by Trump’s inauguration, the Sheffield Demo attracted an unprecedented turnout for the condemnation of America’s new president.

IPeople are set to continue marching this month - last Sunday an estimated 100,000 people yomped across London.

International Women’s Day, yesterday, has been celebrated across the world since 1911 as the global recognition of social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

In China it’s a bank holiday and this year in the US it’s a General Strike: ‘A Day Without a Woman’.

In Iceland in 1975, 90 per cent of women got involved - changing the political landscape and turning it into one of the most progressive countries in the world. When more than half of the UK population is female, yet only 29 per cent of MPs and 22 per cent of FTSE 350 directors are women, 32 million women are not being fairly represented in decision making and the direction of equality. No wonder we have an 18 per cent pay gap - these and other pertinent issues are all connected.

Diversity makes for representative, rounded and effective collaboration.

Despite how much feminism has achieved (before 1987 only five per cent of MPs were women), the UK gender pay gap isn’t set to close until 2069 and the World Economic Forum estimates gender equality won’t be achieved until 2186. This has slowed since last year when it was estimated to be 2131.

Aiming to put the ‘she’ back into Sheffield for IWD with a citywide fringe festival, we want to celebrate and engage with a broad range of people outside of our ‘echo chamber’. We hope to empower Sheffield’s citizens with our inclusive events - which are run by local women (and are mainly free or pay as you feel), through connection or contribution to realise personal and collective significance and growth - because equality is good for everyone. We are proud to say a festival-goer from last year has returned this year to host a workshop. We believe this is one of the catalysts for change.

n A day of activities is happening on The Moor on Saturday. Visit SheFest for details.