AS hundreds of white balloons soared into the sky, people stood to remember the true meaning of International Women’s Day.
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Cheryl Buggy released the stash of balloons from City Quay Bridge, in Gunwharf Quays as a way of marking the occasion, which celebrated how far women have come in society over the last century.
As part of last night’s event, which was organised by Portsmouth’s branch of the White Ribbon Group, a minute’s silence and a service was held in memory to women who had lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.
People were also invited to ‘build a bridge of peace’ by writing the name of a woman who inspired them on a white ribbon and tying it to the bridge.
Pictures of inspiring women through the ages were also put on display.
Speakers at the event included Charlie Dacke from Solent Feminist Network and Kate Brown, a representative from the Crown Prosecution Service.
Domestic violence survivor Kirsty Mellor, who is chairwoman of the White Ribbon Group’s Portsmouth branch, said: ‘This wasn’t just about ending violence against women, it was about men and women working together.
‘Men can be part of the problem but they can also be part of the solution.
‘This was about us standing together and promoting equality.
‘Real men don’t hurt women, they stand alongside them pledging never to commit, condone or remain silent about this kind of violence.
Students from the choir at Mayville High School in St Simon’s Road, Southsea, performed a rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Lib Dem councillor Terry Hall also attended last night.
Kirsty added: ‘The whole evening was amazing.
‘The turnout was brilliant – there were probably about 50 or 60 of us in total.
‘Everyone got in the spirit of things and supported our messages.
‘It was also amazing to think about how far women have come in society.
‘In 2012 we have more rights than we have ever had.’