Manchester Celebrates 100 Years of Radical Women

Charlotte Williams | 28th January 2018

Manchester, the birthplace of the suffragette movement, will be hosting Wonder Women festival, throughout March 2018, led by the People’s History Museum.

The festival explores Manchester’s legacy 100 years on, from a contemporary perspective, with exhibitions, tours, debates, performances and one-off screenings, set to ‘take over’ Manchester, in venues throughout the city.

The events offer a great interactive method for Mancunians to learn about their history, alongside offering visitors to Manchester a great, educational path to explore the city throughout the month.

The Drama of the Suffragette Movement- The People’s History Museum


This historical, centenary event celebrates the 1918 Representation of the People Act, recapturing the voices of the women during the ten year period from 1918, when legislation was passed giving some women the vote.

Helen Antrobus, historian and Events Officer at the People’s History Museum, said: “This was a catalyst moment in the fight for equality, but this is an ongoing story with much still to be resolved. We need to use the centenary as a way of turning up the volume on these issues.”

The Southing of the Sun by Annie Swynnerton- Featured at the Manchester Art Gallery Feminist Take Over


The event kicks off on Thursday 1 March, with a Feminist Takeover and Festival Launch at Manchester Art Gallery from 6pm-8pm, and visitors will be pleased to know this exhibition is completely free. The festival then continues throughout Manchester until Saturday 24 March.

With International Women’s Day taking place on Thursday 8 March, the Wonder Women festival is the perfect place to celebrate the rich history of Manchester’s suffragette movement. This begins with an exclusive performance from Contact Young Theatre, presenting the first performance of She Bangs The Drums, a humorous and political retelling of those who campaigned for the right to vote, held in the Museum of Science and Industry.


The entertainment doesn’t stop here, as you can also find screenings of the award-winning film Suffragette held at The Whitworth Gallery, and a showing of Hooligan Sparrowa documentary highlighting China’s most prominent women’s rights activist, exposing the levels of fear and oppression inside one of the world’s most commanding nations. This exhibit can be found at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art.


If you’re looking for more opportunities to celebrate International Women’s Day, look no further than the People’s History Museum. The day begins with a lunchtime tour with historian Helen Antrobus, that picks out the stories of female reformists, Chartists, suffragettes, MPs, radicals and revolutionaries who have helped to shape the society we live in today. The tour focuses upon the plight of female refugees in The Ongoing Nakba, an afternoon event focusing on the Palestinian refugee women who were forced to flee their homes during the 1948 Palestinian Exodus.

The discussions will continue into the evening, with BBC Radio Manchester broadcasting live from the museum from 7pm- 8pm, where attendees or radio listeners can expect a panel debate regarding the impact of women’s suffrage 100 years on.

Helen said: “Wonder Women 2018 is a festival that will create a space and environment in which to reflect upon and be inspired by the achievements, endeavours, strength, spirit and creativity of the women who fought for the vote and those for whom the quest for equality continues.”

The Lost Voices of the Suffragette Movement- Courtesy of the Quarry Bank Archive.

Wonder Women 2018  prides itself on remembering the inspirational journey of female revolutionaries, however some events offer advice and guidance to modern day women, with events such as the Women in Media Conference (3rd-4th March), which discusses the difficulties women can face in the contemporary media industry.

With a vast range of exhibitions, film screenings, performances and conferences, Wonder Women 2018 boasts something for everybody, not just for women. The People’s History Museum offers fascinating suffragette exhibitions for all self proclaimed history buffs, and heated debates and discussions for all politically minded Mancunians.

You can find more information about Wonder Women 2018, as well as the full March events programme at


Suffragette Stories: Represent Voices 100 Years exhibition at People’s History Museum

“Pankhurst Centre should be a place of resistance…and raging against the patriarchy” – Julie Hesmondhalgh