Over 1600 people joined celebrities and high-profile guests at Central Hall Westminster on Sunday 3rd March for CARE International’s March4Women event, held indoors for the first time in the event’s seven-year history.
The event, held in the venue’s historic Great Hall, was attended by a number of famous faces including Helena Bonham Carter, David Tennant, Sue Perkins, Beverley Knight, Annie Lennox, Amanda Abbington and Nicola Thorp.
This year’s March4Women event took place on the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which enabled women to practice in a range of professions, most notably Law. The rally marked International Women’s Day and celebrated modern-day campaigners who have challenged the law to change the world.
Proceedings were led by women’s rights activist and international campaigner, Dr Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, both leaders of the British Suffragette movement. Other speeches were delivered by musician Annie Lennox, actor David Tennant, President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale, campaigner Shola Mos-Shogbamimu and Mexican labour rights activist Marcelina Bautista.
BBC Radio Four presenter Jane Garvey also hosted a panel of activists who have successfully campaigned to change the equality law. The panel included Gina Martin, who campaigned to outlaw ‘upskirting’ photos, Shaista Gohir of the Muslim Women’s Network and anti-FGM campaigner Leyla Hussein.
During the event, organisers CARE International UK called for a global law to protect women worldwide from sexual harassment, violence and abuse in the workplace.
Music was provided by Beverly Knight, Urban Voices Collective and Bond String Quartet featuring the work of composer David Arnold, famous for his James Bond compositions.
Helen Pankhurst, who led the event, said: “March4Women was a wonderful afternoon of fun and purpose. The strength of March4Women is it combines the solidarity of grassroots movements with the far-reaching voices of high-profile figures, and together we amplify our call for change. It was fantastic to see so many amazing campaigners rightly celebrated, and so many well-loved names willing to share their platform. This is our 7th annual event, and it gets more special every year. To hold our first indoor rally in the beautiful Central Hall Westminster, where the suffragettes congregated and mobilised for change, seemed very apt and felt very special.”
Paul Southern, Managing Director of Central Hall Westminster, commented: “Our venue has become renowned for hosting high-profile events relating to equality and social justice, including those early rallies by the Suffragettes and other women’s movements. We were so proud to be involved in an event which will soon be making history itself.”
Central Hall Westminster’s production partner, White Light, provided its AV services free of charge and the event was also supported by the Fawcett Society, Muslim Women’s Network, UNISON, White Ribbon Campaign, The Centenary Action Group and Stylist Magazine.