Ali Ceesay was part of a team of women who organised a WPUK meeting in Brighton in July 2018.
Organising a WPUK meeting, may not feel like an easy undertaking. The notorious harassment of venues & speakers are well documented.
But times are changing. The baseless allegations, slander and smearing of WPUK are waning.
Because the more meetings they have, the louder our voices, the clearer the message.
In my town of Brighton our sex based rights are being erased.
Erased without debate, without consultation & without consideration. From council policy, to our Rape Crisis centre. I felt voiceless. I felt alone. I felt powerless. Women in Brighton needed a voice. Needed a platform. Needed Womans Place UK.
So I joined a small collective of local women to organise a WPUK meeting. I had never organised anything like this before. To be frank, it felt overwhelming. My head was buzzing with lists and outcomes. But it needn’t have been. The combined expertise and passion of our local group combined with the experience of the WPUK team was formidable and exhilarating. For me- a newbie to this, it was the best work experience of my life.
We had disruptions, venue cancellations, misrepresentation in the press, protests. Each of these disruptions played out well. We got a better venue, the protests & smearing (although intimidating) simply served to demonstrate the bullying nature of many seeking to remove our rights.
All of the challenges, brought us organisers closer together. Humour, wine, righteous anger and a quiet determination bonded us all. We not only organised a meeting but we built a local network. Friendships stronger than ever, nearly a year down the line. Still working together locally to represent the rights of women and girls.
And our meeting was a success. Helen Saxby, Kathleen Stock (both local), Gill Smith & Ruth Serwotka brought the house down. The people came, the venue held strong, the protesters were kept at bay & media coverage was good. Local influencers from politics, to charities, from the media were in attendance. We pulled it off!
So often as women we have to fight our battles alone.
The experience of standing shoulder to shoulder in a congregation of women, learning from powerful orators, watching attendees finally given space, a voice and a microphone was exhilarating.
Knowing I had a small part to play in it, well that’s a feeling I will never forget.
Organise your own public meeting where you live – see our guidance.
Watch the films of our speakers at A Woman’s Place is turning the tide (Brighton)