Civic Party celebrates International Women’s Day

The Civic Party of York celebrated International Women’s Day on Friday 8 March with an evening event at the Mansion House entitled ‘One City – Many Women’s Voices’.

The event, which brought together inspiring women from across they city, was hosted by the Lady Mayoress, Joy Cullwick and focussed on women who are making the world a better place for women and girls.

Sixty-five guests attended and heard BBC Radio York’s Elly Fiorentini interview three local women about their work.

Abigail Gaines founded the award-winning ‘Make Space for Girls’ project, based in Rowntree park. The project aims to address the drop off in park usage as girls enter their teenage years, and to make them places where older girls and women are empowered to be themselves. In November 2023 the programme of summer events received a national award from Green Flag for the ‘best initiative to engage and increase use of parks by women and girls’.

Issy Sanderson created the ‘Yorkits’ initiative, with the backing of Rotary York Ainsty. Yorkits makes and supplies washable feminine sanitary wear kits for women and girls in over 25 countries who live in period poverty and who would otherwise be excluded from everyday activities including education whenever they have a period. In 2021 Issy won an international ‘Champions for Change’ award from Rotary to recognise her outstanding and inspirational humanitarian and community service.

Hannah Thomas, the Special Collections Manager and Research Fellow at Bar Convent, spoke about the contribution to the education of women and girls in York and across Europe by Yorkshire born Mary Ward (1585- 1645). Mary paved the way for girls to be educated in schools, and to the same standard as boys. The Bar Convent opened the country’s second school for girls, and now there are two hundred schools worldwide founded in her name. The Bar Convent is contributing to the ongoing campaign to have Mary Ward officially recognised as a Saint by the Roman Catholic Church.

Joy Cullwick, the Lady Mayoress, said:

“I was delighted to organise this event and have the opportunity to highlight the vision and determination of three remarkable York women, who have all improved the lives of women and girls locally and globally. 

“Through hosting this event at the Mansion House we were able to create a platform for them to share their incredible work, and celebrate their diverse, innovative projects.

“York has celebrated International Women’s Day for the last 16 years and this year with the theme ‘One City – Many Women’s Voices’ around 50 events were offered across the city.”

Along with hearing from their speakers, guests were also entertained by musicians, Yhan Zhang who opened the evening by playing the ‘Pipa’, a traditional Chinese harp and Wenjun Li who closed the event singing Ave Maria. Both are students at the University of York.