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Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson joins Camden in celebrating International Women’s Day

16:06 12 March 2014

Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson with Selma James  from Global Women’s Strike at the Crossroads Women

Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson with Selma James from Global Women’s Strike at the Crossroads Women's Centre in Kentish Town

Archant

Residents across Hampstead and Highgate brought a message of equality and solidarity to the fore on Saturday as they celebrated International Women’s Day.

Standing with communities across the world, dozens of women’s groups, schools and religious congregations gathered to pay homage to the economic, political and social achievements of women, and to raise awareness of the struggles many continue to face all around the world.

A festival full of workshops, panel discussions and interactive debates took over the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage.

With several theatre groups taking part, performance pieces explored the pursuit of “body perfection” among young girls, the discrimination faced by the lesbian community, and the “valiant yet unspoken” experiences of women during wartime.

“It’s great to celebrate how far women have come over the centuries but equally important is to recognise how much more work needs to be done,” said Eve Garrett, a student and one of the organisers.

“On the surface it may look like equality across the genders exists, but reality suggests otherwise.”

Marking the struggles faced by women outside the UK, the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Wolsey Mews, Kentish town, held a fundraiser for Haiti.

Themed around “women’s resistance to occupation and repression”, the evening raised more than £1,500.

Despite becoming one of the first countries to liberate itself from slavery, those attending heard the rampant economic and social inequality still suffered by Haitian women and the “rape epidemic” that followed the 2010 earthquake.

World-renowned poet and reggae artist Linton Kwesi Johnson read a number of poems focusing on the impact of neo-colonialism in the Caribbean.

“We were delighted to have someone like Linton at the centre – he’s a great example of the kind of man we all want in the world,” said Sara Callaway, of Crossroads.

“Women in Haiti, like many around the world, do much of the survival work in the community, and that’s who we wanted to champion.”

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