Recently I was asked by Marie Shaw, Arts Development Officer for Aberdeenshire South, to write a poem specially for the centenary of International Women’s Day, and read it as the introduction to a big event at Buchanan’s, Banchory Woodend Barn on 8th March. As I knew little about International Women’s Day apart from the name, and not enough about women’s lives in other parts of the world, quite a daunting project! Would I do the topic justice, not to mention women across the world?
Marie sent me lots of information about how IWD started in 1911, just 100 years ago…and much encouragement. I started thinking about and reading up on all the changes in life in UK in those years, in particular in the lives of women. The marches and other campaigning to gain votes for women, not to mention changes in heating, lighting, housing, earnings, belongings and property, food, transport and travel – so many huge changes.
How would I tackle it? – past, present, future perhaps; or common experiences and bonds; or maybe building bridges, communication across the miles?
And then I picked up an Amnesty International magazine featuring an article about Tamzin Challenger’s work in Mexico where over 400 women have disappeared since January 2010. I knew then that I couldn’t simply write nice words of celebration about what has been achieved within 100 years, even in my own lifetime, within my own country and in some other places.
I was delighted that Judy Taylor agreed to read too and in front a big crowd representing artists and many other creatives and makers, we started off…
And after all my reading up beforehand, it struck me that morning that although things could always be better, so many of the women there drove themselves to be with us – and in their own cars, can run their own businesses, choose their own clothes and their own style, earn their own money, own their belongings. Unlike so many I had been reading about in so many other places.
Performing my ‘March of the Women’ – a bit daunting too, as well as amazing and overwhelming thanks to the warmth of reactions and the feedback. Best of all however, is that tackling this project and the reading it involved has started me writing again. Many thanks Marie!
Read ‘March of the Women’ in Poetry section. I’d love your to hear thoughts too on my poem, on the topic, on what we could do to help carry forward the change started just 100 years ago.