A BRUTAL attack on a woman she had never met in faraway India changed Julie Ward’s life, and lead to her becoming a member of the European parliament.
In December 2012 a horrific gang rape in Delhi made headlines around the world. Medical student Joyti, 23, was raped by a gang of men on a bus in Delhi. Her injuries were so severe that she later died.
I felt really distraught and I could not believe that we were in the 21st century and systematic violence against women was still OK and would still happen.
Watching the news in the UK was Julie Ward.
She said: “I felt really distraught and I could not believe that we were in the 21st century and systematic violence against women was still OK and would still happen.”
Having achieved a Master’s degree in Education and International Development in Newcastle, focusing specifically on economics, human rights and poverty, Julie decided that it was time to use her knowledge to help people.
Her determination led to her becoming regional co-ordinator for the One Billion Rising movement which aims to raise awareness and stop violence against women.
She organised exhibitions, workshops, events to reach out and support women globally and through this found the “strength and courage” to put her name forward to be an MEP, to which she was elected in May 2014.
Speaking to the Evening Post for International Women’s Day, she said: “I feel that there are missing voices in politics. Politics needs to connect to the daily lives of people.
“We’re all born equal and we should have equal rights in terms of power, resources and visibility. There is a direct connection between invisibility of women and the violence that is perpetrated against us.”
“When we are not visible as leaders and decision makers, as policy makers, we become objectified and that’s when the culture of violence is allowed to continue.”
If you took part in events for International Women’s Day, share your stories and photos at @LEPonline or firstname.lastname@example.org.