INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual event which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

The celebration has surpassed its centenary anniversary and citizens all around the world have praised the achievements of predecessors who fought to enhance the status of women socially, professionally and domestically. Each year, IWD has a theme, and this year’s is #BeBoldForChange, which asks women “to call on the masses or yourself to help forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world”.

Tomorrow, the day will be celebrated across Gwent with a variety of panel talks, workshops, music, art exhibitions and activities.

In Newport, the Women’s Equality Network (WEN) have set up a free event at Newport’s Riverfront which will be running from 10am and starts off with a panel on sexual health and wellbeing. Performances artist Liz Clarke will hold a workshop on Super Hero Alter Egos and comedienne Grainne Maguire will also be putting on a performance.

Guest speakers on the day include Martin Dacey, head of Gwent Education Minority Ethnic Service (GEMS), Rachel Williams, domestic abuse survivor and ambassador for Welsh Women’s Aid, along with Teleri Gray, a Welsh Romani artist.

A panel discussion hosted by Women’s Equality Network, starting at 6pm will be discussing the theme of the day #BeBoldForChange featuring all the guest speakers from the day which includes South Wales Argus’ editor Nicole Garnon.

WEN’s Wales co-director, Melissa Wood, said that International Women’s Day is very relevant in today’s society, and the day will celebrate the contribution of women in Wales.

She said: “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on the progress that women have made in Wales, while also recognising that many barriers still remain. It’s a time to celebrate the huge contribution women make to Welsh society.

“WEN Wales wants to take this opportunity to celebrate the hard work and commitment by organisations and individuals across Wales to achieving real equality for all women and girls.”

A similar event is also being held in Monmouthshire for IWD by the Monmouth Constituency Labour Party’s women’s forum and local charity group iNEED. The event includes a project to provide ‘dignity bags’ for women, which will officially launch tomorrow.

The project’s founder, Chepstow town councillor Hilary Beach, said the project has been set up to provide equipment for women who are having difficulty affording sanitary items.

She said: “Most women menstruate for at least half of their lives. Coping with menstruation can be a costly business and involves a number of items if a woman is to retain her dignity and privacy.

“This project aims to collect items to fill a dignity bag for women who, for whatever reason, have difficulty obtaining the necessary items.

“We will be collecting sanitary towels, wipes, tissues, knickers, disposal bags, roller deodorants, chocolate bars and paracetamol.

“These items will then be sorted into the dignity bags, labelled with the contents ready for distribution to women via existing networks such as iNEED, food banks or homeless charities. The project will have donation boxes at collection points such as pharmacies and supermarkets and we are delighted that some of the major supermarkets have indicated that they are happy to host donation boxes.”

The IWD event takes place at 7pm tomorrow as part of Monmouth Women’s Festival at the Bridges Community Centre in Monmouth. The festival has been running for 14 years after a group of local women who met as a book club decided to launch a festival for IWD.

Across the years the festival has welcomed artists, writers, musicians and comediennes such as Rabbi Julia Neuberger, Baroness Glenys Kinnock, Ann Clywd MP for Cynon Valley and others. Each year, the women behind the festival also choose to support a different women’s charity.

A spokeswoman for the festival said: “We have equipped a family room in the maternity unit at Nevill Hall Hospital, helped mothers and babies in Africa and made donations to local women’s refuges and Home Start, Monmouth. In 2016 we supported The Attik youth centre in Monmouth and we’re delighted to assist them in raising funds to help repair their less abled access lift.

“We endeavour to provide events and activities that appeal to the whole family; men, women and children.”

But with hundreds of years of IWD festivals and various campaigns for equality each year, do women in prominent job roles believe that there are still equality issues which need tackling? Debbie Wilcox is the leader of Newport City Council, and said she believes women have come a long way but there is still more to be done in terms of equality and equal pay.

Cllr Wilcox said: “It’s somewhat dispiriting to think that 109 years later we are still fighting the same battles. One of my political heroes is Barbara Castle. She made history when she intervened in the Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 in which the women of the Dagenham Ford plant demanded to be paid the same as their male counterparts.

“Most significantly, as a consequence of this strike, as a minister in Wilson’s government, Barbara Castle put through the Equal Pay Act of 1970 which paved the way for equal treatment of women in the workplace.

“We’ve come a long way but there’s still much more to be done and it’s up to all of us to continue the journey – that’s why days like March 8 need to be continued to be celebrated and supported.”

Cllr Wilcox will be speaking at the Riverfront event at noon.

Kelli Aspland, one of the women behind Cwmbran based company Auriella, said she believes each year more women are quitting their every day jobs to set up their own businesses.

The 38-year-old mother of four came together with fellow mum Laura Griffin to set up the company after they invented a new sun cream applicator called Solar Buddies, which helps children apply sun cream.

Ms Aspland said that setting up the company from scratch with no business knowledge was fairly easy and that she and Ms Griffin experienced no serious issues.

“We didn’t really have much of a problem. It was quite difficult setting up as we were starting from scratch with no prior knowledge of businesses,” she said.

“The only issue we did have was when we started the business we had derogatory comments from the factories when we were looking for somewhere to get the products made.

“I would say that more women are setting up their own businesses. It’s a great thing for people, especially stay-at-home mums who have families. It’s easier to run when you’re on your own terms and you can set your own hours. On the flip side it can be family friendly (running your own business) as well as non-family friendly.

“I think there’s more people recognising women setting up their own businesses.”

The Monmouth Women’s Festival runs from tomorrow to Sunday and a variety of activities and workshops are available. For more information, visit

For a full timetable of events from the Riverfront visit