It started off with a great opening speech by Sandi Toskvig who used humour and illustrations to explain the gender inequity we still face. "Be bold when you declare 'I am a feminist"
There were over 1000 women and men there and the atmosphere was bubbling with passionate people who want to make a difference to the feminist movement.
The first talk: Abortion Rights: Rebecca Mordan presents, “Reproductive Rights – The Most Important Issue In The World Ever!”
I am fervently pro-choice. We MUST, absolutely MUST have the right to choose what we do with OUR bodies. Our bodies belong to us, not men, not society and certainly not the governments who criminalise abortions. You may think we have already achieved our goals but there's a fear of regression due to LIFE groups led by women like Nadine Dorries and in N.Ireland which is supposed to be under UK Jurisdiction it is regarded illegal to have an abortion.
FACT: 1 in 3 women have abortions in the UK - that's a quite a significant amount of women who have made perfectly sane decisions and their choice should be respected.
FACT: 200 women die a DAY due to unsafe abortions. To protect our women is to legalise abortions.
We must keep fighting and putting pressure on the government to at least keep our abortion rights, if not improve them and introduce the 'right to request' like in Spain or Puerto Rico.
We must end the culture of shame that is attached to having an abortion, break the taboos, open up a dialogue and for women not to feel ashamed of making the right choice for them.
"Sexual education is so necessary and important to change taboos on abortion and to provide children with the knowledge to make the right decisions."
The second talk: White Ribbon Campaign: “Why aren’t you doing more?” Engaging Men in Feminism.
How to engage men in feminism? Such a tough question with no simple answer. I think all men should be feminists, it liberates them as well as us but the majority are scared of the F word and don't want to associate themselves with a women's movement.
To include men in our movement would work in everyones favour, it would break the gender norms that are so indoctrinated in our society. It would provide space for men to exercise their masculinity in the way they desire.
Feminism and to live in a feminist society is beneficial to us all - it has a positive impact on social, economic and political spheres.
"Feminism isn't just for women- it's a human rights issue."
Question time debate with Shami Chakrabarti, Director, Liberty, Bea Campbell, writer & campaigner, Zoe Williams, the Guardian, Carlene Firmin, writer, Matt McCormack Evans, Anti-Porn Men Project and chaired by Cllr Rania Khan, Tower Hamlets.
Some of my favourite quotes from QT:
ZW: 'Problem with the current government isn't that they're not women, it's that they're Tories'
BC: 'We need to reach point where no-one is scared of the 'F' word'
BC: 'When Murdoch introduced page 3 in 1970s he opened up the doors to popular sexism, those doors need to close'
CF: 'Don't give up feminist spaces before you've got them'
CF: 'We need to make feminism relevant to all women in all spaces'
RK: 'Pressure on women to be sexual objects has never been greater'
MME: 'You can't achieve gender equality as long as multi-billion dollar porn industry exists'
It was a fantastic day leaving all of us there with a sense of optimism and excitement. In the words of Kat Banyard: "We're part of a big and a beautiful movement. Together we will find our way to the feminist future we all want"