The view of budget cuts on International Women's Day
On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day, the topic on the lips of most of the women, attending the Birmingham event, was budget cuts.
Gathering at the foot of Victoria square the women in attendance banged pots and pans, sang protest songs and took it in turns to address the crowd.
Mary Pearson, speaking for ‘Birmingham Against The Cuts’ said that the cuts target the most vulnerable members of our society, children, the elderly and disabled. Mary said that the planned cuts to old peoples homes, where the majority of residents are women, will lead to the private sector taking over the services leading to raised prices.
A spokesperson for refugee women, Liz, said that refugees, including herself, come to England to seek security from an unfair and repressive society, but the cuts are ruining this. She asked where will they now go to learn English? How can they live in this society without help? She urged the crowd to fight against the cuts, saying that if they don't fight back now more cuts could be expected in the future. She also talked about the rising student tuition fees, saying that her annual income is around £10,000, so how can she afford to pay £9,000 to send her son to university.
Mary speaking on behalf of UCU (University and College Union), told the crowd that Cameron and Clegg were mocking International Women’s Day by announcing that asylum speakers and people on housing benefits would now have to pay for English classes. She said that we should all celebrate International Women’s Day by being really active and making sure that the cuts don’t happen.
Mariam, a lecturer at Birmingham University, told of her utter disgust at the government for announcing massive cuts aimed at homeless people and threatening to make it illegal to sell soup to the homeless. She said that cuts to universities would force them to have to charge the higher fees. She also told the crowd that these cuts as Birmingham Universities Vice Chancellor has just awarded himself an 11% pay rise on his £392,000 a year position.
The rally ended with traditional womens day poems and songs and finally with chants of “David Cameron can’t you see, we’re the big society”.
International Womens day was first honoured in 1911 with more than 1 million women and men attending rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination.