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London's world famous New Year's Eve fireworks were spectacular. The moment Big Ben struck midnight, 12,000 fireworks were set off from the London Eye on the south bank of the Thames to create a breathtaking display of gold, silver and coloured showers and glittering trails across the skies. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had promised a "wicked" show that would out-do rival cities like Sydney and New York and he delivered.
Music blared from speakers, boats packed with revellers cruised up and down the river and journalists from around the world pitched their cameras at strategic points waiting for the countdown to midnight.
The firework celebrations were themed around the mayor's new women’s equality campaign - #BehindEveryGreatCity. A video was released calling on Londoners, businesses and organisations across the capital to make their New Year’s resolutions for gender equality in 2018. Famous Londoners Naomi Campbell, Linda Robson, Gurinder Chadha, Ray BLK, Susie Rodgers, Tinie Tempah, Abbie Eaton, and Sonia Friedman appear in the video alongside nurses, firefighters, police officers and other workers to champion the fact that it is the achievements and contributions of women, from all walks of life, which make cities like London great.
The mayor’s campaign celebrates the role London played in the women’s suffrage campaign and marks the progress that has been made on women’s equality over the past 100 years. In a New Year's Eve statement, Sadiq Khan pledged to tackle gender inequality in all its shapes and forms: "Over the next year, and beyond, I commit to redoubling my efforts to fight for gender equality. And I will be encouraging Londoners to celebrate the women of all ages, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds who make London the greatest city in the world.”
Speaking about the launch of the campaign, he said: “As a proud feminist I am really encouraged to see so many Londoners supporting this campaign to say that #BehindEveryGreatCity is equality, opportunity and progress – regardless of your gender."
“It is incredibly important to mark the centenary of this momentous time in history, but also to take stock of the huge inequalities women still face 100 years on from first winning the right to vote. That’s why I’m determined to take action - my #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign will work with Londoners and businesses to remove barriers to women’s success and level the playing field.”
The music in the second half of the fireworks, looking ahead to 2018, was exclusively by women artists including Annie Lennox, Aretha Franklin, Florence Welch, Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa. Londoners and international visitors were urged to make their resolutions for gender equality.
The campaign launch comes as three times more women than men say that their gender hinders their progression at work, while four times more men say their gender helps their progression in the workplace. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics showed that in the last 20 years, the gender pay gap in London has closed by only half a per cent from 15.1 down to 14.6 per cent.
As part of the campaign, the mayor is working with London’s many leading sectors – from culture, education and business, to politics and public service – to support the continuing success of women and to push for greater gender equality for women from all backgrounds across the city. Support for the campaign is building across London with many influential figures sharing their personal hopes and commitments to the fight for gender equality.
Key landmarks across the city projected the #BehindEveryGreatCity slogan onto their buildings. Locations included the BT Tower, Piccadilly Lights, Sadler’s Wells and Royal Festival Hall.
2017 has been a grim year for London which was badly shaken by the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. Londoners were also shocked by a terrorist attack outside the Houses of Parliament and an explosion on an underground train. The Mayor spoke of his pride at the way Londoners have responded to the attacks. The New Year's Eve fireworks helped the people of London to demonstrate to the world their resilience and express hopes for a better, brighter and safer 2018.