Teesside International Women’s Day – how to get involved

‘WOMEN’s voices’ is the theme for this year’s Teesside International Women’s Day and there is plenty to shout about as we celebrate women’s achievements across the region and beyond, writes Emma Chesworth.

CAMPAIGNER: Emma Chesworth who has helped organise Teesside International Women's Day can be found tweeting @EmmaChesworth1

CAMPAIGNER: Emma Chesworth who has helped organise Teesside International Women’s Day can be found tweeting @EmmaChesworth1

On Saturday, 5 March, Teesside University plays host to the International Women’s Day event from 10am until 3pm with speakers, business leaders, musicians, poets, activists, Female Genital Mutilation campaigners and information stalls all set to make an informative and fantastic day.

Across Teesside, there are women making great positive changes every single day whether it be through their job or through the huge amount of voluntary work that goes on.

Chats over a cuppa have led to women I know starting campaigns to collect donations for foodbanks – everything from coffee to tampons and toilet rolls to advent calendars.

A call out for school uniforms for children of asylum seeking families in Teesside led to a room filled to the rafters with shirts, school trousers, shoes and blazers – a brilliant response to a much needed request.

In short, women getting things done when they see something needs to be done!

If you want to be part of creating change, there are a wealth of ways you can take part. Here’s just a snapshot of organisations, initiatives and events and how you can get involved.

Middlesbrough International Women’s Day is being held at Teesside University on Saturday, March 5.

Teesside International Women's Day is being held at Teesside University in Middlesbrough on Saturday, March 5.

Teesside International Women’s Day is being held at Teesside University in Middlesbrough on Saturday, March 5.

Yasmin Khan of Halo Project

Yasmin Khan of Halo Project

If you’re interested in volunteering with organisations supporting women in the area, you can find out more about the Halo Project which supports victims of honour based violence and forced marriages. They look for volunteers who can dedicate time to raise awareness of their work within communities.

Read more about the work of the Halo Project: http://expressnorth.co.uk/region-joins-forces-against-honour-based-violence/

My Sisters Place in Teesside is an independent ‘one stop shop’ for women aged 16 and above who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence. Have a look at their website if you would like to volunteer or fundraise to support their vital work.

In Stockton, A Way Out works with vulnerable and at risk women, young people and families. You can donate, fundraise or volunteer to help them continue their support to help people live their lives free from addiction, poverty and exploitation.

A project by the British Red Cross on Teesside (http://www.redcross.org.uk/Where-we-work/In-the-UK/Northern-England/County-Durham-and-Teesside-Northumbria-and-Cumbria.)provides much needed support to female asylum seekers with babies or very young children. The project supports these mothers through everything from assisting with the asylum process to dealing with depression, isolation and anxiety.

The project is always looking for volunteers and donations of items to help the mothers and children. Check out any volunteering opportunities there are in the area.

If you want to use any free time to keep active or take up a sport with a definite feminist twist, you could do a lot worse than check out Middlesbrough Milk Rollers (MMR). Roller derby is huge in this country now and the women-led, DIY, grass roots sport is fast, furious and fun! MMR is an all women, flat track roller derby league, started in 2007 – the first league in the North East. Find them on Facebook and Twitter for dates of their public bouts or their open try out sessions for skaters. You can also catch them at the Teesside International Women’s Day event at Teesside University.
Food and fitness is at the heart of the award-winning Veggie Runners blog by Teesside born mum and daughter duo Jayne and Bibi Rodgers. The body positive blog is full of healthy, tasty and inspiring recipes, advice for runners of all abilities and great chat on all things fitness. Veggie Runners combine fitness and art with their Art Runs – one of which took place during last year’s Discover Middlesbrough Festival. The run, starting from mima art gallery, involved neon maracas, paper boiler suits, a silent disco and a paint party. A fab way to have fun and keep fit!

On a literary note, the Teesside University Feminist Book Club is open to students, staff as well as a wider audience. It was set up by Dr Sarah Ilott, senior lecturer in English at the University, as a way of exploring the relevance of feminism today through the works of popular contemporary feminist works. They meet monthly and have a Facebook group where books are selected via a vote.

As part of last year’s Discover Middlesbrough Festival, the Hidden Women event saw a trail created throughout the town centre highlighting some of the fabulous women who had made positive contributions in all walks of life including politics, art, health, activism and education. I created this event and it was hugely well received with one overriding comment from participants completing the trail: ‘How did we not know about these women?’ As part of the International Women’s Day celebrations, posters of the eight awesome women featured in the Hidden Women event will form a window display in the office of Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough.

Jenni Yuill will be speaking about North East Aid for Calais at the Soroptimist International Middlesbrough event.

Jenni Yuill will be speaking about North East Aid for Calais at the Soroptimist International Middlesbrough event.

From Monday 7 to Friday 11 March, you can discover some great facts about the women who were health pioneers, suffragettes, leading politicians and artists to name a few. The office is in Broadcasting House, Newport Road, Middlesbrough and the display will be on show during working hours.

‘Women for peace in a world of war’ is a conference being held in Middlesbrough on Saturday, 19 March. It will explore the threats we face and how women can be the force for change. The event, organised by Soroptimist International Middlesbrough, is free and takes place at Linthorpe Community Centre. Head along to hear from a range of speakers including anti-racism education worker Laura Pidcock and Jenni Yuill talking about North East Aid for Calais.

This article gives just a hint at some of the ways you can make your voice heard, get involved and be part of a positive, social change. Go for it!


Emma Chesworth can be found tweeting at @Emma Chesworth1