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Thousands of women throw off shackles of inequality at London rally

Ceren Sagir reports from central London

THOUSANDS of people gathered in central London yesterday to rally for equal rights for women.

The March4Women drew attention to sexism, gender inequality and celebrated women’s movements before International Women’s Day on Thursday.

Setting out from Parliament, the marchers ended up at a rally in Trafalgar Square with music and poetry performances as well as speeches from public figures.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was introduced by presenter Sue Perkins as London’s very own “silver fox.”

“Yes, I am objectifying you, Sadiq. What are you going to do about it?” she said.

Mr Khan said that, unlike US president Donald Trump, he was a “proud feminist.”

He noted: “We began in Parliament Square today, which has the statues of 11 great people — 11 great men, without any women.”

He said that the first woman’s statue in the square would be unveiled next month. A figure of suffragist Millicent Fawcett, who died in 1929, would be put up next to Nelson Mandala and Mahatma Gandhi.

I’ve always been a feminist and feel heartened that now there’s no longer a shame in being a feminist … I’ve gone through times when saying you were a feminist you’d get laughed at. Now there is more of a working-class feminist movement and it is much more inclusive of people from different backgrounds. It’s also nice to see men here. When my mother was born, women in my family could not vote because they were working class. Times have changed, but we have further to go. — Christine Aziz, Writer and teacher, London

Mr Khan told the crowd: “We have to commit to double our efforts to get gender equality.

“Although we celebrate progress of women who have smashed the glass ceilings, there is a rise of anti-feminist movements which calls campaigners ‘snowflakes.’

“Behind every great city is equality and progress.”

She said: “I think we are living in a world where there are some dinosaurs that are trying to take us back.”We are here today to march for our rights and help bring awareness over full gender equality still not being reached. But on a positive note, we also are acknowledging the achievement and hard work done so far. We are proud of other women who have done so much and we hope to follow in their footsteps. — Aisling Donn & Isabel Wapenhanz, students, London

Writer and activist Shola Mos-Shogbamimu told the event: “We are all bound by the same shackles, regardless of what you look like. One hundred years on, the struggle continues.

“We need more women in Parliament. We need to recognise the change-makers. We must not be afraid to go out there and kick some ass.

“Do not moan, vote! You are the change we need for today.”

Ms Mos-Shogbamimu called on the demonstrators to take a pledge, declaiming: “I solemnly swear to be totally bad-ass. I solemnly swear to not give up in the face of obscurity. I solemnly swear to fight the good fight. I solemnly swear not to give up.”

It’s about time for equal rights. We do everything men do and more. I’m here at this march before going to work a night shift on a lifeboat to keep people safe. I’ve worked in numerous industries and inequality was there in every place. It’s not just men who do it — it’s women too. Luckily I can hold my ground. It’s about time we have change. Anyone who gives life deserves equal pay. — Jo Tattersall, RNLI crew member, London

Welsh actor Michael Sheen, who was joined by celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, who spoke out against the gender pay gap, said he would “absolutely” take a pay cut if it meant being paid the same as a female actor.

Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, said: “Right across the board, in every sphere, there’s work to be done” to ensure gender equality.

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