International Women’s Day: Tooting residents gather to discuss the urgent need for change


MP Sadiq Khan listened to their concerns.


By Kai Bawmwang

Women of all ages gathered in Tooting’s Mushkil Aasaan Community Centre to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) this weekend.

MP Sadiq Khan and a group of Tooting residents hosted the event, where they listened to the issues faced by local women. Mr Khan admitted that ‘as a man, as empathetic as you think you’re being, you don’t get certain things’. 

A varied group of women attended the coffee afternoon to exchange views on weighty matters such as gender discrimination in the workplace, domestic violence and the rising cost of childcare. 

“We need to fight for the services that matter to us,” said Sophia Parker, co-host and campaigner.

Heads nodded in agreement as women exchanged experiences of everyday sexism and a growing concern that women are under-represented in public life, confirmed by the fact that only 23% of MPs are women.

The group put forward suggestions for the government to support young women with mentoring schemes and more education on subjects concerning women to help prevent the patriarchal mindset in both boys and girls. On a community level, discussions concluded that a greater solidarity between women is needed in order for women’s needs to be addressed. 

Fleur Anderson, mother of four and co-host of the event, said: “We still have a long way to go for women to find their true place in society.

“International Women’s Day is an opportunity to raise important issues. When explaining to my son why IWD is celebrated every year, I say ‘because every other day is International Men’s Day’.”

International Women’s day started as an idea proposed at the 1910 International Conference of Working Women to promote women and provide a vehicle for them to press their demands. The day has since grown to become a global day of celebration and appreciation of women, even gaining status as a national holiday in several countries such as Cuba, Vietnam and Uganda. 

Other events took place across South West London to celebrate the day.

Over 100 female graffiti artists from around the world attempted to break a new record as they painted Leake street tunnel in Lambeth in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Check for more details. 

Others celebrated IWD with a laugh as they headed over to The Bedford in Balham for South London Amnesty International’s ‘Stand Up Women’ comedy night.

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