CELEBRATIONS to mark International Women’s Day will be bigger than ever this year, after the organising group grew in size seven-fold.

The event, previously held at the Broadgreen Centre until last year when it moved to the Central Library, promises to be bigger than ever before, with around 45 people involved in bringing together the variety of groups and activities for the day.

The event will launch on Friday evening, with five individual art exhibitions at Post Modern, Artsite and the library. On the Saturday, women will be offered makeovers and will be able to take part in journal-writing, crafts, henna painting, and story-telling.

These will be followed by a panel discussion on women in business, hosted by Elaine Godley, founder of VitalityMax.

Organiser Rosa Matheson said: “It will be much bigger this year than last year – we had about seven people involved in making it happen last year, compared to about 45 this year. “We’ve got stuff for everybody and I am sure the Henna hand-painting and sari tying will be very popular, it always has been at the Mela in the past.

“I think it is important that we continue to raise the profile of women and women’s issues.

“It’s also important for women of different nationalities and cultures to get together and find out about each other and see what’s going on in a friendly, open atmosphere.

“Our town is becoming so multicultural with so many nationalities, it’s important that we don’t end up living totally separate lives and feeling isolated. “It’s important to get together and share our differences.”

During Saturday morning, three women will undergo a makeover as they are transformed into three iconic females – Twiggy, Queen Elizabeth I and Clara Bow at the Post Modern.

At 1pm on Saturday, hundreds of white balloons will be released outside the library, by women wearing Respect Not Violence t-shirts.

This theme is central to this year’s celebrations and highlights the vital role of men in putting an end to violence against women.

Rosa said: “According to statistics, one in four women experience violence. “The fact is that the majority of men find this as horrible as women do, but get little chance of voicing that; this is their chance to say so.”

This year, money raised from the event will go to Swindon Women’s Aid.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.swindon.gov.uk and see what’s going on.