International Women’s Day was celebrated at Aston with craft and food stalls and a String Quartet forming just some of the highlights showcasing the achievements of women in the community.
The event, part of Aston’s Year of Gender Progress and Power, received a wide range of organisations and institutions, including Breast Cancer Care, The National Trust, Aston’s Careers Service and Fair Trade Design with music from the Isis Quartet.
Voluntary organisations involved included Concrete to Coriander, a programme run by Dr Irena Lwegbu from Community Service Volunteers. The group works with Asian women in Birmingham to encourage allotment gardening with under-represented groups. Launched ten years ago, the women have transformed unused gardens and allotments and have created food cooperatives to sell produce at markets throughout the region.
Dr Irena Lwegbu, said; ‘We were delighted to be invited to showcase our work and to bring along home made Indian cuisine made with ingredients fresh from the allotment. The programme has offered much more then gardening facilities, it has provided a chance for women to gain confidence and learn other vital life skills.’
Kate Parsons, Aston’s Equality and Diversity Advisor said the purpose behind the Year of Gender theme was to respond to the Sex and Power Report issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which highlighted that there are fewer women in positions of power and influence in the public and private sectors.
‘Placing gender equality issues high on our Equality Agenda shows we are determined to buck the trends highlighted in the report both in terms of the profile of our own workforce and the opportunities we are offering our students,’ she said.
Other events taking place at the University throughout the year to promote Gender, Progress and Power include high profile seminars, gender-related films and exhibitions.
Words by Eleanor Drew