In Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century, Jamaican-born Mary Seacole was as well-known as Florence Nightingale, tending to wounded soldiers near the frontline of the Crimean War. 80,000 people took part in a fund-raising gala in London on her return. But after her death in 1881, she was little remembered for more than a century, until a campaign led to her being voted the Greatest Black Briton in 2004, and in 2016 a statue (thought to be the first public statue to a named Black woman) was unveiled in the grounds of St. Thomas’ Hospital opposite the Houses of Parliament.

Last Friday, various groups (listed below) worked together on an event to link International Women’s Day with the particular struggles of women in conflict zones, and especially in Palestine. Hundreds listened to opening speeches and poems in front of the Seacole memorial before linking hands in a human chain right across Westminster Bridge.

Once the chain was formed, a large puppet (christened Mother Sunbird) – a portrayal of a pregnant Palestinian mother – was walked along the line, followed by an ever-increasing crowd.

For a short while, the procession took to the road in front of the Houses Of Parliament before the event finished poignantly with the Mother Sunbird laid on the ground in Parliament Square for participants to place roses on her body, while some chanted
No more hiding, no more fear, Genocide is crystal clear”.

Watch our film report for interviews with some of the organisers and supporters.

Groups involved included Parents for Palestine, Extinction Rebellion Families, Women of Colour at the Global Women’s Strike, Mothers Rebellion UK for Climate Justice­­, Parents For Future UK, Health for Extinction Rebellion, and Mothers Rise Up!