SCORES of women from a range of backgrounds converged on the Asian Cultural Centre as part of the Oxford International Women’s Festival.

The three-hour Women Celebrating Women event at the venue in Manzil Way on Saturday aimed to promote strength through diversity.

Speakers included Scottish writer Kate Clanchy, who read poems by young refugee women, and Eden Habtemichael of Oxford charities Asylum Welcome and Refugee Resource, who described how she came to escape from Eritrea with her two-year-old and become director of Asylum Welcome, as well as winning Women on the Move’s Women of the Year award for 2017.

Former Lord Mayor of Oxford Elise Benjamin discussed rising numbers of women sleeping on the streets and how this could be exacerbated by the closure of homelessness hostel Lucy House.

Rachel Crouch, the headmistress of St Nicholas Primary School, described the ‘gender gap’ in science at secondary schools and Labour MEP Annaliese Dodds spoke about the need for women to fight for basic services and rights globally.

Visitors were entertained by Sea Green Singers as well as a Zumba performance.

Co-organiser Sue Shaw said: “It was an extraordinary demonstration of diversity, both in content and attendance, with an audience from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and a colourful array of stalls, food and entertainment.”

The festival runs until Monday, March 13.