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February 3, 2018

The centenary of women’s suffrage: how and where to celebrate

By Scarlett Evans

It is 100 years since the 1918 Representation of the People Act, a law that granted suffrage to women over 30 in the UK and Ireland.

The centenary is due to be celebrated across the country, commemorated with parades, exhibitions and workshops exploring the work of Suffragettes and their continued influence in today’s society.

Officially the centenary lands on February 6th, though events will be happening throughout the year.

For those of you unsure of how exactly to celebrate the occasion, Verdict have compiled a list of ten events and exhibits happening around the UK.

Museum of London

The Museum of London is organising a number of events in honour of women’s suffrage. On the weekend of February 3rd it will play host to a number of workshops and performances, including a recreated suffragette rally and banner making.

It is also due to open a new exhibit from February 2nd, featuring objects from its Suffragette collection. On display will be Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike medal and a banner embroidered with names of 80 hunger strikers at Holloway prison.

The British Museum

The British Museum is holding a series of events in celebration of Women’s Suffrage.

These include a six week course titled Bombs and Birth Control: Making the Modern Suffragette, a panel discussion under the theme Suffragettes: Deeds not Words on 13 February, and a talk on gender equality by Shami Chakrabarti on 15 March.

The Houses of Parliament

A summer exhibition is due to take place at Westminster Hall. Titled Voice and Vote, it will examine the impact of women on parliament over the last two centuries.

Archive materials will be on display and the “lost historical places” of Westminster, such as the loft where women listened to parliamentary debates, will be recreated.

Manchester’s Wonder Women festival

As the birthplace of the Suffragette movement, Manchester is of central importance in the movement’s history.

The city’s feminist festival comes back for its fifth year, boasting a programme of tours, talks, exhibitions and screenings across the city.

Events begin on 1 March at the Manchester Art Gallery with performances inspired by artist and campaigner Annie Swynnerton.

The Barbican — Nevertheless, She Persisted

In April the Barbican is holding a series of screenings dedicated to showcasing “women’s rebellious and often dangerous efforts to gain equality”, taking footage from around the world in a tribute to the suffragettes.

The series will feature transgender New Zealand MP Georgina Beyer, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to run for US presidential candidate, and Malalai Joya, who ran in the first parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in nearly thirty years.  

Leeds Abbey House Museum — A Woman’s Place

In its exhibition, the Abbey House Museum will explore the journey of the women’s rights movement, and is due to run from January 20th to 31 December 2018.

It will partially focus on Leeds-based suffragette Leonora Cohen and Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams.

The Old Vic — Sylvia

In September of this year the Old Vic is due to open its latest musical — based on the life of Sylvia Pankhurst.

Led by choreographer Kate Prince, it will feature original music and will combine dance, funk, soul and hip hop.

Oxford Playhouse — A Vote of Her Own

At the Oxford Playhouse, the celebration of women’s suffrage will be year-long.

Events include a promenade performance On The March, a talk on the History of Britain in 21 Women from broadcaster Jenni Murray, and the University of Oxford’s adaptation of Ibsen’s ‘Hedda.’

London Southbank — Women of the World Festival

The eighth Women of the World festival boasts an impressive lineup that includes Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and director of London’s Royal Court Theatre Vicky Featherstone.

The five day event will take place between 7 March and 11 March, and will consist of over 200 talks, debates, concerts, performances and workshops. Included will be a discussion led by Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst’s great-granddaughter.

The National Trust — Women and Power

The National Trust is putting on year-round events at a selection of their properties in celebration of women’s suffrage. Included will be Cliveden in Berkshire, Bodnant House in Conway and Gunby Hall in Lincolnshire.

All have some connection to the suffragette movement, having formerly been the homes of Suffragettes or, in the case of Cliveden, the place where the first female MP took her seat.

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