MEN and women of all cultures came together on Saturday to celebrate International Women’s Day and highlight the dangers of domestic abuse.

Central Library hosted a full day of free events, including journaling, acting workshops, and a presentation on women in business.

At 1pm on the dot, white and purple balloons were released as part of the Respect Not Violence campaign.

Rosa Matheson, lead for International Women’s Day in Swindon, said: “This is a great opportunity to celebrate all the good things about being a woman but also to highlight all the things that are bad about being a woman.

“It is both a celebration and an opportunity to raise awareness. It is centred around the Respect Not Violence campaign, and the whole idea is to get men in particular to speak out.

“Women have been speaking out for so long that men’s voices are being lost.

“One voice makes a small noise, hundreds make a big noise, but thousands sound like thunder.

“The white balloons represent the white ribbon campaign in November highlighting abuse of women internationally, which can be horrific.

“The purple balloons represent the one in four women who experience domestic abuse.”

Robert Buckland, MP for South Swindon, put his support behind the campaign.

“The message today is about respect when it comes to domestic violence, for men as well as women,” he said.