'Reclaim the Night': Hundreds take to the streets to demand gender equality


By Maggie Sawant, Students' Union Correspondent

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic on Sunday night, to stand in solidarity against gender-based violence and to demand gender equality.

The ‘Reclaim the Night’ march, now in its thirtieth year, seeks to highlight the vulnerability of women as they walk the streets alone at night.

The protesters marched from Queen’s Square and up Park Street, holding banners and blocking traffic on one side of the road, chanting ‘Reclaim the night, reclaim the streets.'

The marchers then congregated outside the Victoria Rooms, to hear speakers from  organisations such as the Bristol Intersectional Feminist Society and the Student Union’s Women’s Network.

Syirah Ami, Women’s Network Chair, urged the crowd to register to vote in the upcoming general election, stating: ‘Ensure that your vote is for women, and is for gender equality.

‘There is a specific party that, if you were to vote for it, you would be throwing a vote against gender equality.’

"Ensure that your vote is for women, and is for gender equality."

Ruth Day, a student at the University, also encouraged protesters to support the UCU strikes: 'These strikes are a feminist issue and we should be engaging with these strikes as feminists.

'[Under the current pension arrangement] women will retire with smaller pension pots than their male counterparts.

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'There is a 13.4% gender pay gap at the University, and there are hardly any female professors, and even fewer female professors of colour.'

"These strikes are a feminist issue and we should be engaging with these strikes as feminists."

‘These strikes give staff and students the power to push against the patriarchy ingrained in academia.

'Never cross the picket line. Do not use university facilities. Stay in bed. Study in cafes.'

Following the speeches, the protestors marched to the Anson Rooms, where there were more speeches, and performances by the Bristol Bollywood Dance society, the Pole Fitness society, as well as a poetry reading by Annie Wilson.

The ‘Reclaim the Night’ march is the final part of the ‘Reclaim’ campaign, led by the Student Unions’ Women’s Network, which seeks to promote gender equality and combat gender-based violence.

This year, as part of ‘Reclaim’, the Women’s Network also organised a screening of Persepolis, an award-winning film based on the real-life experience of a female Iranian refugee, and a Women’s Taster Day, which consisted of a whole day of workshops and activities for women, including pole fitness, cross stitching, burlesque classes and life drawing.

The 'Reclaim' campaign is particularly relevant on the University campus, with recent research finding that there has been an 82% increase in reports of sexual violence.

Featured image credit: Epigram / Immy Howse

Do you think the Students' Union or University can do more to promote gender equality? Let Epigram know!