This is Womanchester: ways to celebrate International Women’s Day in Manchester

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Manchester is the home of strong women. The upcoming International Women’s Day this Thursday 8 March – the annual occasion dedicated to commemorating the movement for women’s rights – is all the more reason to celebrate.

After all, the fight for female rights was forged for many here in Manchester – not only the city’s radical past contributing towards greater political power in the form of the Representation of the People Act 1918 (with the centenary marked this year), but here the Suffragette movement was also founded.

In October 1903, the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was held at 62 Nelson Street – not too far from what is now The University of Manchester – then home to the political activist Emmeline Pankhurst. Now it is the base of the Pankhurst Centre, a museum you can still visit today. A statue of Emmeline is due to be unveiled in the city centre later this year.

Suffragette activity emerged out of The WSPU – with marching rallies through the city centre and public speeches from the Pankhurst family.

Specific Manchester buildings have their share of women’s history here, too. For example, the Free Trade Hall is not only the place where Emmeline’s daughter Christabel and friend Annie Kenney interrupted a Liberal Party conference by demanding greater rights for women and were arrested, but the first public meeting on the issue of women’s rights was held here even earlier in 1868; itself led by a woman – Lydia Becker.

And the history of strong women here has continued, from politicians to musicians to so many more. No wonder there is plenty going on in the city to celebrate International Women’s Day. And then, of course, this weekend marks the occasion to celebrate the ultimate woman in all our lives – Mum’s the word – it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday 11th.

SHE PWR at Gorilla

Manchester’s most eclectic mixed-bill cabaret night, Pen:Chant, has teamed up with Gorilla to create an unmissable show/party/knees-up to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018. So get to Gorilla from 6pm onwards this Thursday 8 March  for Q&A sessions with prominent female creatives and entrepreneurs, a maker’s market selling locally made crafts, an art exhibition, live music, DJs, cocktails, canapés, book swap and a glitter station. At 8pm, there will be a special edition of Pen:Chant, guest hosted by alt-cabaret live wires Eggs Collective. This will be a ticketed event, featuring comedy, spoken word, live music, cabaret comperes, DJs and a raffle. There will then be a free after-party in the bar with Mancunian female DJ’s and empowerment anthems until the early hours. Tickets: £9/£11/£13.

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She Bangs the Drums

Contact Young Company celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act (1918) with She Bangs the Drums. This much-anticipated show is based on research at the People’s History Museum and will take place in the Museum of Science and Industry’s characteristic 1830 Warehouse as part of the city’s Wonder Women 2018 radical feminist festival. She Bangs the Drums will explore both familiar and unheard voices and stories from Manchester’s rich and radical past as a centre of protest, from the Suffragettes to the Chartists. The 1918 Act saw the vote extended to all men over the age of 21 and women over 30, but with certain restrictions. Museum of Science of Industry, Thu 8 Mar – Sun 11 Mar, at 11.30pm, 2pm and 7pm (Thursday & Friday) and 2pm and 7pm (Saturday & Sunday). Tickets £13/£7 concessions at contactmcr.com or by phone on 0161 274 600.

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Suffragette: charity screening at The Whitworth

Forget Bridesmaids and Girls Trip, this one’s a chick flick with a twist!
This Thursday The Pankhurst Trust and The Village Screen are commemorating the incredible suffragette women, 100 years after they fought for, and won, the vote for women in the UK, with a special screening of the award-winning blockbuster Suffragette at The Whitworth art gallery – which is just yards away from the initial meeting place of the infamous suffragettes (62 Nelson Street, Manchester). And since this day is dedicated to celebrating all things female and fabulous, it wouldn’t be complete without a tasty tipple – which is why quality wine and craft beer importer, Morgenrot, are hosting a wine tasting reception before the show. Wine reception starts at 6pm, with the screening at 7pm.

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Suffragette City – Portraits of women in Manchester music

DJ Paulette. (Photographer Elspeth Mary Moore)

Suffragette City is a celebration and photography exhibition which launched at Oxford Road’s The Refuge on the 23 February and is aimed at recognising and celebrating women’s achievements in the music industry. Curated by Manchester Digital Music Archive co-founder Alison Surtees, it features photographic portraits of 25 key women in Greater Manchester music, including venue owners, sound engineers, record label managers, photographers, DJs and musicians. The launch party went down a treat with music from DJs Abigail Ward, Kath McDermott and Paulette, and the exhibition runs until Saturday10th March with free entry, so why not check it out on International Women’s Day and be inspired? The exhibition is part an ongoing project, Rebel Music – The Sound of Politics and Protest in Manchester and is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.

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Sailing Stones at Gullivers

A gig to celebrate any occasion never goes amiss – and a fitting way to mark International Women’s Day is a line-up of inspiring musicians for an evening at Gullivers in the Northern Quarter this Thursday 8 March. Headlining is Sailing Stones, the artist name of singer songwriter Jenny Lindfors. Jenny is half Irish/half Swedish, and is now based in Bristol, UK – touring to celebrate the launch of her new EP She’s A Rose. An opportunity to be part of an intimate set with mesmerising music. Support comes from the brilliant Jo Rose and Megan Dixon-Hood.Tickets £7 adv/ £8 on the door.

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EGGS at 53two

An insightful dark comedy EGGS – written by Florence-Keith Roach and directed by Chantell Walker – will be running at Manchester’s unique arts space under the arches 53two, 7- 10 March, 7.30pm start. That means you can get down to see it on International Women’s Day – as after all, it’s got women power at its centre, with the tagline: Females, Friendship, Fertility and Freaking out. This is a story about young women trying to figure out who they are, how to exist and who to be – previously performed at the Vault Festival and sure to be memorable. £10 (£8 concession).

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A special cocktail at The Alchemist

This popular series of bars has a brilliant connection to celebrating female contributions and craft – one of the Board Directors is female, Victoria Stewart, and a number of female bartenders are involved.  One of them, Holly Tudor, has developed her own cocktail for Women’s Month. Her inspiration was Ada Coleman who was head bartender of the Savoy for 23 years. The drink created is called ‘Coley’s Cure’ – a combination of rhubarb gin, red vermouth and gomme, served in a smoking medicine bottle with a 1ml syringe of gold elixir on the side. A 50p donation from each one sold will go to the Rosa Charity which tackles four key issues for women: Leadership & Representation, Safety, Health & Wellbeing and Economic Justice. So why not get down to one of the Manchester branches and sample a ‘Coley’s Cure’ this International Women’s Day? With sites at Spinningfields, New York Street and MediaCityUK, you are spoilt for choice. Actor and Key 103 Breakfast co-host, Gemma Atkinson, is also speaking at an event on 21st March at Alchemist Spinningfields.

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Womanchester

This week the city will be renamed Womanchester as part of a diversity festival to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8th March which is encouraging organisations across Manchester to #PressForProgress. The name change is part of a programme of events that will celebrate Manchester’s vibrant history of powerful women – including a Federation of Small Businesses event and a Forward Ladies Power Business Breakfast. The week will culminate in a celebration evening on International Women’s Day itself Thursday 8 March at The Radisson Free Trade Hall; a site which marked the beginning of the militant campaign for Votes for Women. It’s set to be a high-profile ceremony which will play host to a panel of speakers including Joanne Roney, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, Lou Cordwell OBE, Director of AllBright and CEO of Magnetic North. Be part of the movement.

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Dancing in my Nuddy Pants at The Deaf Institute

A celebration dedicated to the teenage-fave film and book Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is taking place on International Women’s Day for a night of dancing at The Deaf Institute – hosted by Thirsty Girls Collective.  It’s ten years since the book was made into the film so many love – so assemble your Ace Gang, apply your longest boy entrancers, strap up your basoomas and get ready to party. Expect a night of teenage dreams with your favourite indie and pop anthems from the noughties and soundtrack classics from 11pm until 3am.  £4 limited earlybird, £5 general sale, £6 on the door.

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From Petticoats to Microscopes

A fantastic talk at Manchester Museum which you can pencil in your diary for just after International Women’s Day – 12 March. Petticoats to Microscopes explores the lives of Manchester women involved in pioneering science through the ages, including Marie Stopes, Adela Bretton and Margaret Murray. Experts Michelle Scott and Judith Fabian, as part of Wonder Women 2018, will lead a conversation from 1.30pm-2pm, so you can learn about the women who’s shaped scientific progress, the museum and its collection.

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