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The best International Women’s Day events in London for 2019

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Stylist’s highlights of the events taking place for International Women’s Day 2019 – the theme of which is #BalanceForBetter

When is International Women’s Day 2019 and what is the theme?

A major date in the feminist calendar to bookmark is the UN-backed International Women’s Day - celebrating women everywhere and advancing the worldwide movement towards gender equality and women’s rights. International Women’s Day will take place this year on Friday 8 March 2019.

Rather than taking on the impossible task of tackling every single issue in the complex battle for gender equality worldwide, International Women’s Day each year focuses specifically on a theme that has been particularly prevalent in the last year. In 2018, the call to action was to #PressForProgress, rallying for a fundamental shift in the mindset of communities and organisations worldwide to be gender inclusive, regardless of industry, background or situation.

For 2019, the International Women’s Day campaign will continue to push for progress in gender equality, this time demanding #BalanceForBetter, with a line-up of female-led events and activities happening globally, seeking to educate on and promote a more gender-balanced world.

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When did International Women’s Day start and who founded it?

Originally ‘National Women’s Day,’ the first day celebrating the women’s rights movement was organised by the Socialist Party in America and took place in New York on 28 February 1909 in New York. 

This initial date in the US sparked a series of days celebrating the continued fight for equal rights and women’s suffrage in countries across the world, including Denmark, Austria, Germany and Russia.

The United Nations took Women’s Day global in 1975 – the ‘International Women’s Year’ – calling on member states to officially mark 8 March as the UN ‘Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace’. This later evolved into International Women’s Day. 

Today, the date is so widely celebrated it is now an official holiday in countries such as Afghanistan, China and Vietnam.

How can you support International Women’s Day?

“On 8 March, join activists around the world and UN Women to seize the moment, celebrate, take action and transform women’s lives everywhere,” say the organisers of International Women’s Day. “The time is NOW.”

There will be various events happening across London in celebration of International Women’s Day. Only a few have been announced officially so far, but this page will be updated as and when new events for IWD 2019 are announced – so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back.

Not based in London? You can also support International Women’s Day 2019 by following our guide to feminist activism, or check out Stylist’s UK-wide feminist events calendar here

International Women’s Day events in London 2019

Spin for SmartWorks (1 - 8 March)

Spin for SmartWorks

SmartWorks is a brilliant charity that provides workwear and clothes suitable for job interviews to unemployed women who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. In a bid to raise more money in commemoration of International Women’s Day, the charity are hosting a week-long cycling challenge, in which teams of five will aim to cycle at least 500 miles. 

Last year 58 teams raised £40,000 for this worthy cause, but if you think you can beat that, why not register your own team? The five who cycle the furthest will be crowned Spin Winners, but there are also regional prizes up for grabs. 

And don’t worry if you don’t have the time to get out on the open road - your team can choose whether to compete on road bikes, in spin classes or on a stationary bike at the gym.

Event will take place from 1 - 8 March nationwide / Registration costs £25 per team

International Women’s Day at Seven Dials (4 - 10 March)

Scarlett Curtis

Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies)

Seven Dials are hosting a wide range of women-centric events in the week leading up to IWD, and have collaborated with some of the most exciting feminists to do so. Scarlett Curtis, author of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (And Other Lies), is going to host a live version of her podcast of the same name alongside an as-yet-unnamed very special guest. Tickets to this particular event are free, but you’ll have to enter the ballot and cross your fingers you get lucky. 

Elsewhere, there’ll be workshops and talks from some of the UK’s most successful women, from jewellery designer Dinny Hall to Tredwell’s head chef Chantelle Nicholson. If you’re in the area for a shop, there’ll also be a donation point where you can contribute to the Fawcett Society and a free book exchange, championing some of the best female writers of today.

Event will take place from 4 - 10 March at Seven Dials / All events are free but require ballot registration 

Feminist Time at the Royal Academy (2 - 11 March)

Rose Wylie in her studio

Rose Wylie in her studio

Every year the Royal Academy host a series of female-focused events to celebrate women artists both past and present, and for this International Women’s Day they’ve chosen the theme of “Feminist Time”. What is Feminist Time, we hear you ask? According to the RA, it’s the act of reimagining and challenging the male-dominated history of art as we know it and making sure those narratives change for the female artists of the future. 

The full programme consists of a range of talks, musical performances, hands-on workshops and free tours of the RA’s collection. 

RA Feminist Time events include:

  • Half-hour tours of Burlington House and Burlington Gardens (11.30am, daily)
  • Artist in conversation: Rose Wylie and Frances Morris (2pm, 2 March)
  • Reimagining women’s art histories talk (6.30pm, 6 March)
  • Feminist archiving and the institution talk (2pm, 9 March)
  • In tune with Feminist Time musical performance (7pm, 9 March)
  • Family studio: future makers workshop (11am, 10 March)
  • Forgotten Masters: Minnette de Silva talk (6.30pm, 11 March)

Events will take place from 2 - 11 March 2019 at Royal Academy, Burlington House / Ticket prices vary; individual tickets needed for each talk and workshop 

March 4 Women International Women’s Day event (3 March 2019)

The #March4Women International Women’s Day event for 2019 is inspired by the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, which allowed women to practice law for the first time in the UK. The event will focus on celebrating the women who have changed the law, to the benefit of women all over the world. The event will also call for a worldwide treaty to protect women everywhere against violence and harassment in the workplace.

Last year’s #March4Women event saw the women of London take to the streets to demand gender equality. This year’s event will take place indoors inside Central Hall Westminster, but don’t expect it to be any less energetic - a jam-packed line-up of speeches, activities and entertainment will keep you pumped all afternoon. Team Stylist will be in attendance at #March4Women’s official media partner; find out more here.

Event will take place from 2.15-4.15pm at Central Hall Westminster / Tickets £5

Good Women: International Women’s Day (7 March)

#Islington4Women was launched last year in response to a Women’s Hour survey that named the north London area “the worst place for women in the UK”. This year, on the eve of International Women’s Day, they’re hosting a grassroots style evening of planning, debate and action, hoping to lobby the government and council to make Islington to a safer place for the women who live and work there. 

As well as activism, there’ll be snacks and drinks, plus as a chance to meet and connect with your fellow, local feminists. We know that great things happen when women come together, so who knows what you’ll achieve.

Event will take place from 6pm - 8.30pm at Impact Hub Islington / Tickets are free but registration is required

Guardian Live: The Guilty Feminist International Women’s Day Special (8 March 2019)

The Guilty Feminist Deborah Frances White

Stylist Live speaker and host of our upcoming Remarkable Women Awards 2019, Deborah Frances White is the founder and star of our favourite podcast. The Guilty Feminist. Running since 2015, the show so far has racked up over 50 million downloads (and counting), boasting high-profile guests including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Tulip Siddiq, Sharon Horgan, Amika George, Hannah Gadsby and Emma Thompson. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, Frances White and The Guardian Live will be teaming up for a special live episode of The Guilty Feminist, taking place at the Barbican in London.

Event will take place from 2.15-4.15pm at Barbican Hall / Tickets £25

Banana Cabaret International Women’s Day Show (8 March)

One of London’s best-loved comedy clubs, Banana Cabaret at The Bedford in Balham, is hosting a very special IWD event, featuring only female comedians. Expect to see the likes of Mary Bourke (the woman behind the brilliant Brexit-themed Edinburgh Fringe show, I Want An Irish Passport) and Tania Edwards (who has appeared on Mock The Week and Radio 4’s hilarious panel show The Unbelievable Truth), as well as Joanne McNally and Jess Fostekew. 

We all know being a woman is hard, but they do say that laughter is the best medicine. You’ll be doing some good too, as £1 from every ticket sale will be donated to the Malala Fund.

Event takes place on 8 March at The Bedford / Tickets are £15.61 including booking fee

WOW - Women of the World Festival (8 - 9 March 2019)

WOW Festival Southbank

Women of the World (WOW) festival launched in the UK back in 2010, as a space for feminist activists, artists, performers and thinkers to celebrate women and girls everywhere - while raising awareness of issues that prevent them from achieving their true potential. 

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of WOW in 2020, they are hosting a brilliant festival of events at the Southbank Centre, to coincide with International Women’s Day 2019.

The two-day festival taking place at the Southbank from 8-9 March will feature a fantastically inspiring line-up of speakers, including political activist Angela Davis, author and filmmaker Naomi Klein and comedian Jo Brand, as part of a series of talks and workshops that take a fresh look at the state of gender politics and equality in the UK. 

WOW Festival Line-up includes:

Friday 8 March 2019 

  • WOW: What Now? Led by Jude Kelly (2pm)
  • Women on the Move Awards 2019 (6.30pm)
  • Jo Brand’s Born Lippy: How to Do Female (8pm)
  • Angela Davis in Conversation (8pm)

Saturday 9 March 2019 

  • New Daughters of Africa with Margaret Busby (6pm)
  • Naomi Klein in Conversation (8pm)
  • Catherine Mayer FFS (8.30pm)

Event will take place on 8 and 9 March 2019 at Southbank Centre / Ticket prices vary; individual tickets needed for each talk and workshop 

Women in Focus Festival (8 -10 March)

This International Women’s Day, Poplar Union’s Women In Focus festival wants to first celebrate the landmark #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and then to move the conversation on. Following the theme of “perception”, the programme of talks, performances, films, workshops and even cabaret is incredibly diverse, with LGBTQ+ people, women of colour and various religions all on the line-up. 

Sit back and listen to Nari Chetoni present the ideas and lives of Bengali women through the medium of poetry and storytelling, or book yourself into the LBT dance class with expert Rachel Sparks.

Event will take place from 8 - 10 March at Poplar Union / Most events are free but require prior booking

This page will be updated as and when new events for International Women’s Day 2019 are announced - so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back.

Words: Lucy Robson and Emily Baker.

Images: The Corner Shop / WOW / Getty Images / SmartWorks / Royal Academy / Rachel Sparks / Islington4Women / Mary Bourke

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