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International Women’s Day rally in Leeds – photo Iain Dalton

Around 35 people atteneded the International Women’s Day rally in Millenium Square The demo was organised by the Socialist Women and Non-binary group (SWAN) initiated by members of Leeds Socialist Party Branch.

Abigail Braybrook, Leeds Uni Socialist Students

With a good turnout for such a chilly evening, the focus of this demo was not just to celebrate International Women’s Day but also to stand in solidarity with the women striking for their rights across the world, and in particular the continuing struggle for access to safe and legal abortions in Ireland.

Speeches were given by Sarah Gilborn – former vice president for welfare at Leeds Beckett University, Ros Campbell from Unite, Maddy Andrews – Leeds Beckett Student Union Vice President, Gilda Peterson from the Keep Our NHS Public campaign, Fran Heathcote President of PCS DWP Group, Marvina Newton from Angel of Youths, Jenny Skinner from Leeds Beckett Socialist Students, and Amy Cousens from SWAN.

Fran Heathcote, PCS DWP Group President addresses the rally – photo Iain Dalton

Topics ranged from the rampant sexism, and even sexual assault, in academia, to how statistically it is women who suffer the most when vital services are cut, to how vital it is for women to be involved in unions.

Also spoken about was the need to be inclusive when talking about these issues, that not all women can get pregnant and not all people who get pregnant are women, and why men of the conservative right feel such a need for control on issues, such as abortion, that don’t really concern them at all.

Amy Cousens, Leeds SWAN and Socialist Party member, addresses the rally – photo Iain Dalton

The evening was rounded off by a speech from Amy Cousens about the origins of International Women’s Day, how the Russian Revolution was kick-started by women workers refusing to accept the abysmal conditions they’d been given, and how the motions that were brought in just after the revolution surrounding divorce, abortion, and sexuality are progressive even by today’s standards.

Also a reminder was given to everybody that on Wednesday 15th March, Socialist Students are hosting Rita Harrold from the Irish abortion rights campaign group ROSA at 6pm in room B.11, Parkinson Building, University of Leeds.