Visible Women

Your 2018 Feminist Calendar: protests, panels and exhibitions celebrating the sisterhood

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Moya Crockett
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Get your diaries out, because this year’s offering of feminist events is bigger and better than ever. 

There’s a buzz about 2018. In “the year of the woman”, we’ve already celebrated the 100th anniversary of women’s enfranchisement in the UK and seen women march around the world to say no to sexism. Statues of female change-makers from history are being given the go-ahead all over the country, awards ceremonies and film festivals have been dominated by discussions of sexual assault and gender inequality, and campaigns such as 50:50 Parliament are urging more women to get involved in politics.

Fittingly, 2018 is also packed with ways to revel in the sisterhood, from protests to panel discussions, exhibitions, art classes and theatre. Below, we’ve compiled a handy calendar of UK-wide feminist events – so join your sisters and mark these dates in your diary.

We’ll be updating this page throughout the year, so save it to your bookmarks. If you have an event you’d like to see listed here, drop Stylist’s digital women’s editor Moya Crockett a line at moya.crockett@stylist.co.uk. 

ONGOING 

At Last! Votes for Women (until 31 August)

This exhibition features archive items and objects from the suffrage collection at the London School of Economics Women’s Library, including banners, sashes, badges, prison diaries, leaflets and much more.

Concentrating on the last (and often bitter) years of the long campaign for the vote, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the methods of the three main women’s suffrage groups: the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL).

London / Free / More information here.

A Woman’s Place? at Abbey House Museum (until 31 December)

This exhibition just outside of Leeds looks at the struggles and progress of women in achieving equality and recognition, featuring stories and objects from Leeds women such as suffragette Leonora Cohen and Olympic boxer Nicola Adams.

Leeds / Free with admission to Abbey House Museum / More information here.

Votes for Women (until early 2019)

To celebrate the centenary of women’s enfranchisement, the Museum of London is hosting a display dedicated to the women who fought throughout the 50-year struggle for the vote.

Displaying items from the museum’s extensive suffrage collection, including the medal given to Emmeline Pankhurst following her hunger strikes, the exhibition includes costume, memorabilia and lesser-known information about the movement. There’s also a documentary telling the stories of some lesser-known suffragettes.

It’s free, but you’ll want to take some extra cash to spend in the gift shop, where you can buy blue plaque plates, suffragette coasters and other irresistible souvenirs.

London / Free / More information here.

Represent! Voices 100 Years On Exhibiton (until February 2019)

Manchester is recognised as the birthplace of the suffragette movement, thanks to its status as the home of the Pankhurst family.

At this interactive exhibition at the People’s History Museum, campaigning material from present-day feminist groups including Repeal the 8th and Women’s March Manchester will be on display alongside suffragette banners, sashes and photographs from the early 20th century, as modern women share what representation means to them today.

Manchester / Free / More information here

2018 marks the centenary of women’s suffrage, but there’s still a long way to go. 

JUNE

Thursday 14 June

Smarter Cities, The Future of Work

This Fawcett Society discussion is part of the City of London’s Woman and Work season. Joanna Place, Chief Operating Officer at the Bank of England, hosts a panel discussion about the future of the workplace for industries dominated by women.

London / £5 / More information here

Friday 15 and Saturday 16 June 

Greenwich Book Festival 

There are plenty of female-focused discussions and events at this literary festival in south-east London, including a talk about local heroes of the suffragette movement, a session celebrating women cartoonists and graphic novelists and a party in tribute to women writers. Stylist columnist Lucy Mangan will also be discussing her book Bookworm: A Memoir of Childhood Reading. 

London / Prices vary / More information here

Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas (1939)

Saturday 16 June

Woman with a Movie Camera Summit 2018 

This day of talks and events at the BFI sees filmmakers, academics, scholars, cinephile activists, writers, critics, artists and programmers come together exploring the question: what does power mean for women? The focus here is on the experiences of women in the film industry, and panel discussions will tackle topics including #MeToo, power dynamics on set, the importance of diversity in film criticism and the problem with the ’strong female character’ trope. 

London / From £10 / More information here

Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up (until 4 November)

This exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum will see Frida Kahlo’s clothes, jewellery, prosthetic limbs, cosmetics and other belongings on display in the UK for the first time – offering an entirely new perspective on the pioneering artist and proto-feminist icon.

London / £15 / More information here.

Frida Kahlo Life Drawing Party with Art Macabre

Couldn’t get a ticket for the first day of the V&A’s Kahlo exhibition? Head to The Book Club in Shoreditch instead, where they’ll be hosting a life drawing party inspired by the Mexican artist’s work. 

Two models will pose as contrasting sides of the artist’s surrealist aesthetic, which explored themes of pain and grief as well as pleasure and passion, to a soundtrack of Mexican folk, mariachi music and jazz.

London / £15 / More information here

Funk singer Betty Davis 

Saturday 23 June

Betty: They Say I’m Different screening

Despite breaking down all kinds of barriers in the Sixties and Seventies, pioneering funk and soul singer Betty Davis doesn’t get the same credit today as many of her peers.

This screening at the Regent Street Cinema is the UK premiere of new documentary Betty: They Say I’m Different, which explores the ways in which Davis was a woman ahead of her time – from writing and singing explicitly sexual music to managing her own career. It will be followed by a Q&A with director Phil Cox.

London / £12 / More information here.

Girls Rock School Edinburgh: Summer Showcase

Girls Rock School Edinburgh is an inclusive music school open to everyone who identifies as female who wants to rock out. Their summer showcase at The Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh’s Old Town promises “excellent music, fierce women, mosh pits, cans of Red Stripe and unapologetic awesomeness”. Sounds like a good night to us.

Edinburgh / £5 / More information here

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon 

Wednesday 27 June

Celebrating 25 years of engendering change

Join Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon at a garden party to celebrate the 25th birthday of Scottish feminist organisation Engender. Sturgeon will reflect on Scotland’s progress towards gender equality in front of an audience of feminist campaigners past and present – before the celebrations move on to a bar for an after-party.

Edinburgh / Free / More information here.

Voice and Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament Exhibition in Westminster Hall (until 6 October)

This interactive exhibition uses technology to recreate several archaic, lost spaces that maintained space between men and women in the Houses of Parliament before women won the vote. 

These include the ‘Ventilator’, a structure that allowed women to listen into debates in the House of Commons via a gallery, and the ‘Cage’ - a later iteration of the gallery featuring a brass grille, which prevented female onlookers being seen by male MPs.   

London/ Free/ More information here.

Thursday 28 June

Queens of the Coal Age (until 21 July)

If Billy Elliot focused predominantly on the men and boys affected by pit closures in the north of England, Maxine Peake’s first play for the Manchester Royal Exchange theatre is concerned with the women. 

Based on a true story, Queens of the Coal Age follows four women who took a stand against the closure of Lancashire’s Parkside Colliery in 1993, going down into the pits and refusing to come up again. An all-but-guaranteed hit from one of the UK’s best and brightest theatrical voices.

Manchester / From £18 / More information here

JULY 

Wednesday 4 July

Making Our Voices Heard: The Changing Influence and Image of Women

At this talk at Abbey House Museum in Leeds, librarian Sally Hughes will highlight how the image of women has changed from the 1700s to the present day, supported by books, journals, photographs and playbills from the Leeds Libraries archives.

Leeds / £5 / More information here.

Friday 6 July 

Bean Flicks 

Billed as “Birmingham’s first feminist porn event”, this day-long festival will feature free panel discussions between people including Dr Lucy Neville (author of the nonfiction book Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys) and disabilities and sexualities advocate Gill Leno. 

Expect film screenings of feminist, ethical, queer and kink-positive porn shorts, plus an evening DJ set by Birmingham collective Girls! Girls! Girls!

Birmingham / £5.83 / More information here

Friday 13 July

#BringTheNoise

Fittingly, Donald Trump has chosen Friday 13 as the day he’ll visit the UK for the first time as president. The people behind the Women’s March on London are organising a mass anti-Trump march for that day called #BringTheNoise: taking their inspiration from so-called ‘casserole protests’ in South America, they’re asking demonstrators to bring pots and pans to make as much of a racket as possible. Time to get loud.

London / Free / More information here.

The theme for 2018?

Thursday 19 July

100 Years On: Women and Architecture in the City

Despite the influence of important figures such as Zaha Hadid to Jane Drew, women remain significantly underrepresented in the field of architecture. Be inspired at this evening of presentations and talks at The City Centre, which will see experts discuss how women have shaped the physical face of the City of London over the past century.

London / Free / More information here.

Saturday 21 July

Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup 2018 (until 5 August)

According to campaigns such as #ShowUp, one of the best ways to raise the profile of women’s sports is to fill the stands at games, matches and events. Turn out to support England’s national hockey team at this year’s World Cup, where they’ll be taking on teams including defending champions the Netherlands, Argentina and the USA.

London / From £10 / More information here

AUGUST 

Saturday 4 August (until 1 September) 

From Petitions to Prime Ministers: Guided Tours of the Houses of Parliament

Join a ‘Blue Badge’ guided tour and discover the history of women in Parliament. The tour traces the long journey towards equality, from the early days of petitioning for women’s suffrage to the UK’s first two female Prime Ministers and the prominent role of women in Parliament today.

Follow in the footsteps of suffragettes, suffragists and other campaigners and stand in places that figured significantly in the struggle for the vote - from the Commons Chamber to St Stephen’s Hall and Central Lobby.

London/ From £21 / More information here.

Monday 13 August

Heroines of Cinema (until 15 August)

This three-day mini-season of film screenings at London’s Guildhall Yard will see audiences kick back in front of three movies that celebrate women both in front of and behind the camera: Wonder Woman, Thelma & Louise and Suffragette.

London / £15 / More information here

Anna-Marie Duff and Carey Mulligan in Suffragette

SEPTEMBER

Monday 3 September

Sylvia (until 22 September)

This hotly-anticipated musical at the Old Vic will tell the story of leading suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst through dance, hip hop, soul and funk. West End star Genesis Lynea (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Bodyguard, Bend it Like Beckham) will take on the role of Sylvia, with Beverly Knight playing her mother Emmeline and Witney White as her sister Christabel.

The musical has been co-written by director and choreographer Kate Prince, who says she believes Sylvia “hugely contributed to women getting the vote, just as much, if not more than, her mother… Ultimately we are telling the story of the price each of the Pankhurst family paid for their political purpose.”

London / From £8.50 / More information here.

Wednesday 12 September

Thank a Feminist

“What have the Romans ever done for us?” That famous Monty Python line will be given a timely twist at this talk, hosted by Feminist Archive North, which looks back at everything feminists have achieved in the last century. 

Leeds / £5 / More information here

Thursday 13 September

Women Leading the Way

A panel discussion on women in business in 2018, hosted by The Fawcett Society. The conversation will be led by Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), and Ann Francke, CEO of the Chartered Management Institute and author of the Financial Times Guide to Management: How to Make a Difference and Get Results.

London / £5 / More information here.

Wednesday 26 September

Gender’s a Drag

As gender roles continue to be challenged and redefined, drag kings (women performing as traditionally masculine characters) are playing an ever-more prominent role in London’s theatres and clubs. Drag king group The Bareback Kings (above) will lead this evening of improvised drag on a mission to discover the ‘King of Kings’.

London / £5 / More information here

NOVEMBER 

Friday 2 November

Behind Every Great City

The Fawcett Society presents a talk exploring women who have helped to shape the City of London, chaired by Museum of London director Sharon Ament.

London / £5 / More information here.

Friday 16 November

The Campaign

November 2018 marks 100 years since women were first able to stand as MPs in the UK. This improvised theatre performance will see two female political candidates go head-to-head in a political debate on “the issues that matter”, inspired by audience suggestions and polls.

London / £5 / More information here

DECEMBER 

Friday 14 December

Unveiling of Emmeline Pankhurst statue

The eagerly-awaited bronze sculpture of Emmeline Pankhurst is set to be unveiled in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square today. Designed by sculptor Hazel Reeves, the statue will show Pankhurst standing on a chair as if addressing a crowd, with one arm outstretched; she will face towards the Free Trade Hall, a venue for radical suffragette activism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Manchester / Free / More information here.  

Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.  

Images: iStock / Rex Features / Getty Images. Greta Gerwig photo: Chris Floyd for Stylist. Betty Davis illustration: Josie Jammet for Stylist. 

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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