PEOPLE flocked to an evening of entertainment and discussion about the history of International Women’s Day.

A host of speakers addressed a politically engaged crowd at the Wanstead Library for Unite’s event “A Celebration of Women’s Voices” on Thursday, March 8.

Susan Pashkoff opened the evening by discussing the socialist history of International Women’s Day, the struggle for universal suffrage and role of trade unions in defending women’s jobs in the United States.

Khadijah Ward, equalities secretary of East London Unite Community the spoke about race, class and gender and the history of black female political rulers and struggles.

Members of the Sing E17 Collective lead the audience in singing Bread and Roses. Local opera singer Deborah Fink performed for the first time in Wanstead, singing “Summertime” and an Irish ballad.

Cecilia Richards of Redbridge Equalities and Judith Garfield of the East London Federation of Suffragettes each held exhibitions. A book stall was also provided by Viv Archer of Newham Bookshop.

Ms Pashkoff says: "Our event highlighted the voices of women both culturally and those struggling against the impact of austerity. Austerity has been devastating for women with 86 per cent of the cuts impacting upon women.

"Celebrating the historical struggles, fighting against the loss of essential services like the NHS, Education, and Benefits includes not only the struggle at the national level, but also at the local level. The voices of women are often ignored.

"On International Women's Day, women are finally at the forefront,  at the event we paid homage to those who have fought for women's liberation and those fighting in the ongoing struggle.

"We learn from each other, we draw inspiration from each other, and we stand in solidarity together." 

Attendees also enjoyed a raffle, cakes and refreshments.