International Women’s Day serves as a chance to celebrate the economic, cultural, social, and political achievements of women. Marked annually on March 8th, the day stands as a passionate call to action to accelerate gender parity, through celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness, lobbying for equality and fundraising for women’s charities.
Here in Manchester, the birthplace of the suffragettes and the city that has spawned many a social movement, there is no better place to come together and celebrate the women who worked tirelessly to create an equal society for us all. Within the Oxford Road Corridor, we are lucky enough to be surrounded by the inspiring rich history of women’s activism.
International Women’s Day is a moment to recognise the work of women across Manchester and how could we not start that by giving thanks to Emmeline Pankhurst? You’ll find her statue in St Peters Square, with her unforgettable mantra “Deeds Not Words”. You can visit The Pankhurst Centre, where Emmeline lived with her family from 1898 to 1907, and where the first meeting of the movement, which became known as the suffragettes, took place. It is the only place where you can visit a former home of a Pankhurst and is the only museum that is committed to solely telling the story of the fight for women’s right to vote. As Manchester’s most famous female Victorian author, a visit to nearby Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is a must. You can find the Grade II listed neoclassical villa where she lived on Plymouth Grove and explore the writer’s legacy through beautifully restored artefacts.
The University of Manchester also holds significance in the fight for gender equality. This is the place where Eleanor Sykes became one of England’s first female doctors after studying medicine and it’s where Marie Stopes, the first female academic on the faculty of Manchester University, paved the way for sexual liberation when she opened Britain’s first birth control clinic.
Today Manchester continues to be the home of great female minds, especially here on Oxford Road. Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate between 2009 and 2019, is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University. Professor Linda Merrick is Principal of the RNCM and an internationally-renowned clarinet soloist, recording artist and pedagogue. Dr Katherine Boylan is Director of Innovation for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and oversees innovation activities within MFT. Esme Ward is Director of Manchester Museum, at the University of Manchester, with a commitment to lead the world’s most inclusive, imaginative and caring museum. She is the first woman in Manchester Museum’s 132-year history to hold the role of Museum Director. These are just a handful of examples of the women who are driving innovation within Manchester’s knowledge quarter.
Here are some of the best events happening here to mark International Women’s Day.