International Women’s Day celebrates 100 years

Via a press release

On Tuesday 8 March the centenary of International Women’s Day will be celebrated worldwide with nearly 250 special events being held in the UK. So how will older women in Finchley be marking that Tuesday? Fifty women from North London University of the Third Age (U3A) gave some details of their plans for the day.

The women who took part in our brief survey are all over sixty, with some well into their eighties. Almost all of them have retired but you can forget any stereotypes of old women watching daytime TV and pottering around in their gardens.

North London U3A is about lifelong learning. On Tuesdays alone it has a programme of twelve different interest groups – including a science group meeting in Avenue House and a very popular country dancing session at the Finchley Progressive Synagogue. (If you looked into those venues on other days of the week, you would find U3A members engrossed in cryptic crosswords, bridge, jazz, history and more). You might also find a card-making group in the home of a member in Finchley or the film club getting together at the Phoenix.)

Most of our responses came from people who will be singing for pleasure on the morning of International Women’s Day. An impressive number of them will have a short breather after they have sung their last note and then take the bus to Finchley to country dance the afternoon away.

Those who spent their working lives as teachers begin again as students alongside people who were secretaries and administrators, social workers and advisers, press officers and journalists, dentists and nurses … They are all keen to expand their knowledge and learn new skills once they retire.

There’s not much evidence of older people slowing down. At least three of the country dancers are in their 80s and the majority are in their 70s. But it doesn’t stop there: people listed yoga, pilates, keep fit, swimming, running, walking, croquet and golf among their plans for the day. Nevertheless, some people will be spending part of that Tuesday in a hospital department for tests and treatment.

Whatever the ‘big society’ may mean, older women in north London are an active part of it. They volunteer regularly with community associations, groups for refugee and asylum seekers, literacy classes, reading to older people, on duty in community libraries and charity shops.

After all that, do they put their feet up? Well, only after their music practice, quilting class, lectures, committee meetings and concerts. And, of course, babysitting for their grandchildren or meeting their family for a meal together.

As one person wrote, ‘All in all there is little time for boredom!’ Some people will be at special events for International Women’s Day, but most of them couldn’t fit anything more into their normal Tuesday diary.

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