Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Fairtrade Fortnight Launch

When I posted “Leaving the Fairtrade Foundation” on the Public Affairs Blog in July 2008 little did I think that at the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight this year I’d be giving away over 3,000 pieces of chocolate cake made with Fairtrade cocoa and sugar!

On Sunday 22 February London South Bank hosted a Fairtrade themed family sports day, highlights including making Fairtrade smoothies under pedal power and a Harry Hill look alike competition.

NFWI had been offered a promotional stand and I persuaded 3 of my friends (and I hope I can still call them my friends!) to made 45 chocolate cakes measuring 14"x 11" and weighing over 1 kilogram, the ingredients for our WI Fairtrade Chocolate cake was given to us by Sainsbury’s Supermarkets and Divine Chocolate. All 45 cakes were transported from Cambridge, Oxford and West Sussex by very varying means of transport to the South Bank. They were unpacked and cut up on site, over 3,000 pieces in all and placed in paper bags with a label bearing the WI logo and a quote saying –

“Bake for change, use the Fairtrade range”

Around 10,000 people visited the launch and this was a great opportunity to promote the WI and support Fairtrade as NFWI was one of the founder members of the Fairtrade Foundation.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting day spreading the word about WI, about our campaigns and interests and lots of women wanted to know how they could become WI members. The cake, of course, was delicious and a huge success with all the visitors – the recipe is on the WI website.

Many thanks to those who helped Emily (Boost) and I with this venture – would we consider doing it again? Well ………………

Janice Langley

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Million Women Rise

WI members from across the country joined the Million Women Rise march on 7 March to protest against violence and celebrate International Women's Day. Lynn Martin of Oakley & Deane WI attended the march from Hampshire Federation and has shared the following account of the day.

What can I write about a march that is new? It’s just a load of women with placards isn’t it? A rabble walking down Oxford Street shouting “end male violence to women”, blowing whistles, drumming and making a noise. What could they possibly hope to achieve by doing that? Particularly when the national news media did not even acknowledge the march took place. But I met groups of women who felt strongly enough to stand up and be counted. Who gave up their precious free time, travelled long distances to London, who were determined to stride out along this nation’s busiest shopping streets saying enough is enough, this has to stop.

The march began in Portman Square where I met women present from all ethnicities, some pushing pushchairs, some in wheelchairs, young, old, black, white, Asian, Arab. All saying the same thing and linking with women throughout the world. As we walked in Oxford Street I felt very moved when I witnessed the passion and determination of so many women who wanted to give other women hope. I hoped that if the sight of us gave just one woman the courage to walk away from a damaging relationship, it was worthwhile, that if it made just one man feel ashamed enough to seek help with his anger, it was worthwhile. Two women die every week as a result of male violence. It isn’t acceptable.

We marched from Portman Square to Waterloo Place where there were speeches, live performances of reggae and hip hop music, stalls with information and petitions and cakes and leaflets on the WI stall. Niki Stevens of East End WI spoke on behalf of the NFWI and I quote: “More than 50 years ago WI members called on the government to do more to prevent the rising numbers of rapes and sexual assaults. Nearly 35 years ago WI members called on the government to ensure a refuge was available in every county if not every town . . . one in 4 local authorities still lack specialist support services for women, and rural women bear the brunt of this postcode lottery”.

During the speeches a Labour MP cynically said ”we only listen when an election is due and there will be a General Election next year”. But she also said, “Get out there and use your vote and encourage your daughters [and sons] to do the same”. Women marched for us to have the right to vote and some felt so strongly they were prepared to die for that belief. They achieved their aim and so can we. Write to your MP and local councillors, make a noise and a fuss, make a difference.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Women Reaching Women

Our new Women Reaching Women campaign is another example of ground breaking actions by our organisation.

Communities extend vertically and horizontally in the 21st century, and many people are now familiar with the idea that they can be part of a community across national borders. Just as travel and technology have broken down barriers for co-existence, so can we as WI women build on our skills, honed in our locality, family and though our WI branch, and extend them to women in other countries. To join our global online community, please email moderator@nfwi.org.uk.

After all materialistic assets and aspirations have been stripped away, women across the world are faced with similar needs, requirements and challenges. Our actions often impact on those who are a world away, very far from mind, but for whom we are beginning, through our campaign, to take responsibility for. Women are pivotal to the survival of families and communities, through working together and better understanding we can touch and reach women all over the globe. The Women Reaching Women workbook is a fascinating read, littered with questions to provoke thought and ultimately lead us to action – which is what NFWI is respected for. To download the workbook, just log onto our website, www.theWI.org.uk.

Caroline Macdonald

The NFWI Campaigns blog is back

The NFWI Campaigns blog is a great way for members to share campaign news and updates. If you would like to tell other members what your WI has been doing for any of the campaigns, please email your news and updates to k.webb@nfwi.org.uk