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Celebrating women's empowerment: A recap of International Women's Day with Women1000

Celebrating women's empowerment: A recap of International Women's Day with Women1000

By Afsana Salik, Senior Organiser for Tower Hamlets Citizens

On Friday 8 March, Women1000 celebrated International Women's Day at the Maryam Centre in partnership with NHS Barts Health, Account 3 and Near Neighbours, uniting 300 women from East London to honour local female leaders. The event was co-chaired by Salma Siddique, Trustee of East London Mosque alongside Cheyenne, Kashia and Hajar from Queen Mary University of London.

This year's theme for International Women's Day was Inspiring Inclusion. In a vibrant display of solidarity and support, our community came together to celebrate women's health and empowerment. The event focused on addressing the unique challenges faced by women, particularly women of colour in healthcare. It welcomed 300 women from our local community alongside representatives from various health organisations.

We began by reflecting on Women1000's journey from 2019. Women1000 initially started as Women100 and in the last six years, has been committed to developing more than 450 women in leadership and community in East London. At TELCO's 25th Anniversary Assembly, we officially launched Women1000, to develop 1,000 more women within the community!

Women100 becomes Women1000 at TELCO's 25th Anniversary Assembly, November 2023

The day kicked off with attendees exploring different stalls dedicated to women's health, providing valuable information and resources. From discussions on reproductive health to mental well-being, participants had the opportunity to deepen their understanding of crucial health issues affecting women.

There was a range of organisations present, including NHS Barts Health, Mind, Diabetes UK, St-George-in-the-East Church, Quit Right, Macmillan Support and more. From confidential mental and emotional advice to managing conditions such as diabetes and spotting the signs of cancer, the support available aims to meet the diverse needs of the community in a way that eradicates stigma, discrimination and inequality.

A highlight of the event was the engaging group discussion, where voices were raised to shed light on the disparities and obstacles in accessing healthcare. Through open dialogue and shared experiences, we collectively reaffirmed our commitment to advocating for equitable healthcare access and quality for all women.

Fathima Begum, Bilingual Co-worker for the Speech and Therapy Deafness team and Winner of the Patient Choice Award reflected on how creating an inclusive space can increase the potential for individuals who can contribute to society more effectively.

Beth Brown, Associate Director for Patient Participation and Community Engagement Group, took the opportunity to launch the Health Equity Action Leadership (HEAL) Champions. HEAL is a new initiative in partnership with Citizens UK and NHS Barts Health to tackle health inequality in North East London. HEAL champions will be trained by Barts Health staff to provide verified health information and signpost people to the right services. The programme will begin in September, with training starting over the Summer.

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Throughout the day, attendees were also treated to inspiring talks from female leaders, whose stories of resilience and determination serve as beacons of hope and empowerment. Recognising the invaluable contributions of these women, we took a moment to honour and award notable individuals and groups for their outstanding efforts in advancing women's health and rights.

But it wasn't all serious discussions and presentations. The event also featured moments of joy and celebration, with poetry readings by Milni and Nusaybah, nasheeds by Jahanara Begum and Jubayddah Bibte Mumin, and a captivating play providing entertainment and inspiration by our interns from Queen Mary University.

International Women's Day

As the day drew to a close, a cross-faith prayer brought together participants in a spirit of unity and solidarity by Sajeda Ahmed from Darul Ummah and Hayley Still from Salvation Army Stepney Green.

Participants evaluated the event positively, expressing a renewed sense of excitement, gratitude, happiness, and motivation. Successful aspects included its bilingual and inclusive nature, the effective presence of Barts Health, and exceptional co-chairs. Special thanks were extended to partners and Queen Mary University London interns for their leadership and teamwork.

In the end, our gathering was more than just an event; it was a testament to the power of community, collaboration, and collective action in advancing women's health and rights. As we look to the future, let us carry forward the spirit of empowerment ignited by this day, working to create a world where every woman can thrive, flourish, and lead lives of health and dignity.

A new Women1000 Logo, designed by Milni Gunasekara, to celebrate the journey of Women100 to Women1000.

Women1000 logo

Close up shot of a person smiling and clapping in the middle of a crowd.

Through community organising, our members have been able to build stronger relationships across the community and within their own organisations. Whether it’s the local church that has seen its congregation grow, or a school that has gone from “failing” to “outstanding” by re-thinking how it engages pupils and parents, our member institutions join Citizens UK because it contributes to the common good and benefits them directly.

Posted by Shazia Begum on 5 Apr, 2024