International Women’s Day is clearly the highlight in many a feminist’s calender. There is always an an overwhelming number of options. In London, there were hundreds of smaller events, of course, but two major draws: Million Women Rise, the ~5,000 strong march through central London which we covered here, and Capital Woman, a massive conference hosted by the Greater London Authority.
The F Word bloggers who were free and in town on 8 March opted for the march. I did actually register for Capital Woman, but decided not to go. On a purely practical level, I had the London 3rd Wave banner stored in my flat and so was responsible for it appearing on the march. But it was a surprise even to me that I actually wanted to demonstrate rather than go to the conference, even with the promise of an appearance by Angela Davis (as I’ve said rather publically, I am/thought I was somewhat disillusioned by direct action after the whole Stop the War thing failed to actually stop anything. I guess that this experience changed my mind somewhat).
The conference was oversubscribed with some 5,000 women registering. The real draw for the majority there was the chance to have an audience with Angela Davis, academic, global activist, and African-American icon of the black power movement. For those of us weaned on justice, human rights and equality for all, Angela Davis epitomises the required five fruit and veg a day, she is quite simply essential sustenance for a healthy intellectual diet. The audience was 2,000-strong, akin to a concert with the sheer hungry adoration and awe palpable throughout the auditorium, irrespective of whether or not you were familiar with Angela Davis.
The audience asked about legacy for future generations of women; about keeping connected to values and goals; about integrity and commitment. They also asked how to counter the prevalent individualism of the 21st century and how to maintain an interconnected global community, and this is the link with the Games, our values and me – individuals make communities. Repeatedly and with inspiring humility and humanity Angela Davis described her many achievements and accolades, (and I’m paraphrasing here) as representing the accumulated efforts of many people; that without the input, strength and support of others there would be no Angela Davis.
While Suzanne at Blog Her reminds us to be glad we have the conference:
My friend again attended the conference this year, and while I visited her this weekend (maybe next year when I visit, I can time it better and go to the conference with her), she told me how she spoke to the mayor of London while on the elevator. I was overcome by jealousy that London women have such a unique opportunity to be heard, and how little (if any) controversy there seems to be that such a conference should even exist.
I’m a bit unsure about whether it really would be controversial to have a Capital Woman New York, or a Capital Woman Chicago, etc, actually. But still, I thought I should post this to point out that we did notice the conference took place, even if we didn’t actually go, and it is a good thing.
Of course, I know why they held the conference on IWD, but I can’t help but think it would have been good to be able to go to both conference and march. If these reports are right, and 2,000 women went to the conference who might reasonably be supposed to be the same basic constituency that might have wanted to go to the march, that could have boosted numbers to 7,000 women rising. In theory, I know. But isn’t it a bit counterproductive to split our numbers?