A chance for the community to be heard
The Very Revd Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich, welcomed attendees saying:
"We have come together today to think about and face some of the more difficult things that affect women and commit to change them. It's our heart as Christians to do this and we welcome partnership in this with those of all faiths and none."
Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes (Norfolk WI) convenes Norfolk Women Reaching Women: a coalition of over 25 organisations including Mothers’ Union Diocese of Norwich. Today they wanted to highlight the United Nation’s initiative to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The keynote address was given by Aneeta Prem, President of the Freedom Charity, an international organisation, based in Norwich, which aims to raise awareness and prevent child abuse affecting girls in the UK. She spoke movingly of girls experiencing forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
"We cannot say this is not our problem; it's happening in the UK, with over 150,000 girls affected," Aneeta said. "We have to take a stand. We are the generation that can eradicate FGM."
Aneeta travelled to London immediately after the event to attend an International Women's Day reception at Downing Street with Prime Minister Theresa May. Aneeta said:
"Norwich has embraced this issue by hosting an event like this. Each person can take responsibility to keep women safe. We need more volunteers to help spread the word and speak out about these atrocities against our young women."
The event brought together a variety of groups to highlight the issues, the work already being done and pledge future actions. This free event was just one of thousands taking place around the world on International Women’s Day.
Marguerite Phillips, Mothers’ Union Diocese of Norwich President says:
"During Mothers’ Union’s annual 16 day campaign to end violence against women and girls we joined in with Norwich City Council’s Norfolk-wide #IWalkedAway campaign, last November and the 10-foot tall Big White Ribbon sewn by the WI and over 20 other community groups, has drawn much attention in The Forum, Norwich and in its tour around Norfolk and it featured again here today.
“As an international charity Mothers’ Union has a long history of campaigning at United Nations and government levels to end violence against women and girls in its many forms. Members work within their local communities across the world to bring about change. We were delighted, once again, to join with the growing number of organisations who are part of Norfolk Women Reaching Women and on International Women’s Day 2017 state our concerns about women everywhere and pledge our organisation’s action."