Tuesday, March 08, 2011

International Womens' Day at the TUC

Signal failure at High Barnet? I squashed on to the bus with everyone else and headed a few stations down the line, arriving a little late at the TUC building in Great Russell Street, but in time to do a sound check.
I played to a room full of animated women who were drinking wine and chatting (some listened!), and it was a privilege to be part of the event. It was introduced by Frances O'Grady, and a succession of speakers talked about the lot of women in Nepal (where mass redundancies in the Middle East are having a severe effect on Nepalese migrant workers, many of whom are women), Columbia (where membership of a Trade Union will cause you to be thrown in jail: one woman has been incarcerated for more than a year), Ireland, and the UK.
Mary Turner of the GMB reminded us that cuddly Anne Widdecombe (her of the pussy cats and Strictly Come Dancing) was the same politician who had proposed that women prisoners in labour should be chained to their beds: the room gave her a rousing cheer for this.
The best speaker was Yvette Cooper, who made a succinct and pointed speech without notes and without flannel, and who stuck around for a while afterwards to listen to the other speakers (unlike some politicians I have come across, for instance that Geoff Hoon who was monstrously rude once, when I had a job that involved taking MPs from emerging democracies to the Houses of Parliament to look round).
The evening finished with the Colombian band Clumbe; I was interested to hear their music because a student of mine a few years ago wrote a thesis on Shakira and said that she had been famous in Colombia for making traditional Colombian music before her hips started not lying, which her original audience found rather disconcerting!
I also bumped into a former student, Sylvia, who now sings at a lot of political events, and it was really heartening to hear that she is performing a lot. It was an interesting evening, and inspiring.
Thank you to Gemma, for making me so welcome.

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