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hundreds of women gather in richmond to celebrate international women's day

Richmond women still fighting for women’s rights

on March 15, 2011

On March 8, 1908 woman marched through the streets of New York, demanding better pay, shorter hours and the right to vote. 103 years later the struggle for women’s rights continues, although in new circumstances.

“We still are not where we want to be,” said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin on Saturday as residents gathered to celebrate International Women’s Day with an event called “Sisters in Solidarity: Richmond the Beloved Community.”

The gathering at Lovonya DeJean Middle School was an opportunity for Richmond women of every age, background and nationality to discuss their problems, challenges and hopes. Calling them “the architects of society,” Mayor McLaughlin highlighted women’s rights to their bodies and to make decisions about their lives.

”We still have changes to make,” McLaughlin said.

Thirty local organizations presented their activities during the event.  Promoting healthy lifestyles, fighting domestic violence and building bridges between communities were just a few of the many discussed topics.

“We are here to promote the idea of sharing between younger and older generations,” said Jackie Thompson from Unity in the Community. “This is great opportunity to send our message and to network.”

Apart from serious discussions, there was also time for creativity, fun, and delicious (and healthy) food. A huge queue was formed to try Cindy Howell’s famous garlic chicken, spring rolls and black beans with cinnamon, as well as Bessanderson McNeil’s amazing cookies.

At the urging of Enrique Duarte, who works with the Weigh of Life healthy eating support group and the RYSE Center, more than a dozen women joined him onstage to dance an energetic Zumba.

“Richmond’s women are strong, smart and soulful,” Duarte said. “I wish them healthy life in all aspects, happiness and independence.”

This was the fourth annual event in Richmond marking International Women’s Day. “I’m feeling wonderful to see such a diverse, beautiful group of people,” said City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles. “With every year, the energy of this event gets higher.”

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