On Saturday 8th March, eleven members of Syria Peace and Justice (including five women) attended the Million Women Rise march in central London on International Women’s Day, in solidarity with all those working to end violence against women and children across the world.
In particular, we wanted to show support for women and children from Syria affected by and seeking to end all forms of violence against them, whether living inside the country or as refugees in other countries.
The event was an opportunity to publicly emphasise the struggle of the region and raise awareness of the plight of the people. We carried placards expressing our support and concern and brought leaflets to hand out, which included an invitation to take action with us.*
We were a mixed group of women and men. At the assembly point just off Oxford Street, it turned out that men were not permitted to join the march proper. There was initially some hostility from an organiser regarding this male presence, but other organisers aided us in defusing the situation, and in the end the men were invited to show solidarity from the pavement.
Moments afterwards, we were asked to remove ourselves from the pavement by police officers, who suggested that we were creating an obstruction to pedestrians. Once the above predicament was explained, the officers suggested that we retreat to the back of the march, ahead of the police van. A few of us agreed, while others peaceably stayed put.
The march proceeded from Oxford Street to Trafalgar Square, with members of the public and marchers alike showing interest and support for us along the way. Those of us who stuck to the pavement (i.e. the men and those women who had decided to remain with them) halted at a few points along the way. This assisted us in engaging with passers by, many of whom saw our placards and approached us for leaflets and additional information.
Once the march reached its destination in Trafalgar Square, most of our group mingled around the fountain as speeches were made from the stage. This provided another good opportunity for us to share information with fellow activists and members of the public. Overall, it felt like a successful afternoon’s networking and public engagement.
*The full text of the statement that we handed out on the day can be found at the end of this post
Click here for more images from the day
Next Syria Peace & Justice group event: Info evening, Wednesday 19th March
Our group’s next event is an information evening in Whitechapel on Wednesday, titled: “Peace and Justice in Syria: How Can It Be Achieved?” The evening will feature short films, talks by UK-based Syrians who have recently spent time with other Syrians based in the region affected by the conflict, and discussion. All are welcome to join this free event.
For more details, click here