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Women's History Month 2017

Bow Matchwomen, Asian women protesting, a woman being arrested at the Battle of Cable StreetMarch is Women's History Month, and we've rounded up some great events in, around, and about east London. (Thanks to Alternative Arts for collecting many of these in their Women's History Month round up.)

Exhibition: A Fighters' Archive

Tuesday 7 February - Sunday 19 March 2017

A Fighters' Archive by sculptor Wijnand De Jonge at the Guildhall Art Gallery commemorates the Black Women's Movement in London during the 1970s and 80s, and addresses the context of social and racial tensions of this period. Bronze casts of activists' clenched fists form a monument to the living and to recent history, set within the Gallery's historic London collection. Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London, EC2V 5AE. Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm, Sunday 12pm - 4pm. More information.

Exhibition: We're not finished! Campaigning for women's rights since 1883

Wednesday 1 - Friday 31 March 2017

This exhibition organised by Eastside Community Heritage, records the stories of women from the East End of London who have been involved in campaigns concerning women's working rights or who are descendants of the members of the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS). Redbridge Central Library, first floor, during normal opening hours. More information.

Exhibition: Making Jamaica: Photography from the 1890s

Friday 24 February – 11 April 2017

Ingrid Pollard has been commissioned to create 5 new works inspired by the Making Jamaica exhibition, using her signature hand-tinting in response to the archive exhibition from 1890s Jamaica. Tues, Wed & Fri 11am-6pm, Thurs 1pm-9pm Sat 12noon – 6pm. FREE. Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, EC2A 3BA. More information.

Exhibition:  Headscarves 1950s

Wednesday 1 - Friday 31 March 2017

Gillian Lawrence researched and interviewed British women who are now over 70 about their headscarf wearing in the 1950s and has made a series of paintings as homage to this generation of women. Open during cinema opening times. FREE. Stratford East Picturehouse, Salway Road E15 1BX. More information.

Exhibition:  What Redbridge Wore

Tuesday 28 February to Saturday 10 June 2017

Visit Redbridge Museum’s special exhibition What Redbridge Wore to learn about changes in women’s fashion over the past 400 years. From Victorian corsets to 1920s ‘Flapper’ dresses, masculine wartime outfits to the diverse outfits of today, women’s fashions are constantly evolving and tell us much about society. Open Tuesday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm. Redbridge Central Library, 1st Floor Exhibition Area. More information.

Exhibition: East End Women: The Real Story

January - September (TBC) 2017

East End Women: The Real Story is an exhibition celebrating women's involvement and leadership in social and political change which was created by the East End Women's Collective, of which the East End Women's Museum is a member. The exhibition tells stories of just some of the amazing women who have shaped the history of the End East and beyond. Open Mon - Thurs: 9:30 - 20:30, Fri: 9:30 - 17:00, Sat: 10:00 - 17:00, Sun: 12:30 - 17:00 at St George-in-the-East, 14 Cannon St Rd, E1 0BH. Unfortunately the church is not wheelchair accessible. More information.

Exhibition: Champions

Wednesday 1 - Friday 31 March 2017

A display of canvases by artist Gillian Lawrence, depicting women championing causes and passions in their local communities and beyond. On display at Hackney Central Library with accompanying radio shows at East London Radio. More information.

Activity: Women's History Month reading group at Redbridge Library

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Join this special group if you enjoy reading books about the history of women and relevant themes. The book for discussion will be Direct Red: a Surgeon's Story by Gabriel Weston. Free, tea, coffee and cake will be served. 6:30pm to 7:30pm, Redbridge Central library. For further information, and to arrange a copy of the book call 020 8708 2409.

Film: Guerrillas In Our Midst

Thursday 2 March 2017 

Amy Harrison’s seminal documentary on the Guerrilla Girls is joined by acclaimed documentarist Kim Longinotto’s Eat the Kimono to celebrate International Women’s Day. Introduced by Sophie Mayer and Selina Robertson from Club des Femmes. Tickets £9.50, 7pm, Zilkha Auditorium, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX. More information.

Film: Four women who were at the Battle of Cable Street

Wednesday 8 March 2017    6.30pm – 8pm

Thursday 9 March 2017   10am-12noon

Sally Flood, Millie Finger, Beattie Orwell, Marie Joseph. This amazing film was made during the recent exhibition at the Idea Store by the Cable Street Group. It is an ‘in conversation’ piece with the four women, and chair Vince Quinilivan, and not only goes into the details of that tremendous battle but also the lives of the four young women and what work, politics, love and day to day family life were like during those times.  Idea Store Watney Street, 260 Commercial Road E1 2FB Stepney Green 020 7364 3804. More information.

Activity: Boys’ Book Club: Women’s History

Monday 6, 13 and 20 March 2017, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Celebrate women’s contribution to society in the past and today. For boys up to the age of 11 years. Idea Store Chrisp Street, 1 Vesey Path, East India Dock Road, E14 6BT, 020 7364 1505/6.  More information.

Activity: Girls’ Book Club: Women’s History

Tuesday 7 and 14 March 2017, 4:00 – 5:00pm

Celebrate women’s contribution to society in the past and today. For girls up to the age of 11 years. Idea Store Chrisp Street, 1 Vesey Path, East India Dock Road, E14 6BT, 020 7364 1505/6. More information.

Exhibition: Nostalgia is not Enough

Wednesday 8 - Friday 31 March 2017

The Brady Boys club was the first Jewish boys club in Great Britain. Founded in 1896 it originally provided underprivileged boys from the East End with recreational and educational opportunities. The Girls Club was founded in 1921 by Miriam Moses and is the focus for the exhibition which represents a selection of images from a recently recovered collection from the Brady Centre, now deposited in the East End Archive at The Cass.

Mon-Fri 10am-8pm, Sat 12noon-5pm, Cass Foyer Gallery, Central House, 59-63 Whitechapel High Street E1 7PF,  020 7320 1984. More information.

Exhibition: Women's Stories of Ford Dagenham

Tuesday 7 March – Sunday 26 March 2017

Celebrate our incredible local herstory by sharing with you this unforgettable story of courage, camaraderie and conflict, told and created by women of all ages in Dagenham Barking and Havering. Exhibition on display at Valence House Museum  7 - 26 March, Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 3HT (also at Dagenham Library Monday 20 February – Monday 6 March). More information.

Film: Century: 10 Women x 10 Decades

Wednesday 8 March 2017

On International Women's Day at Hackney Attic 1000 Londoners' Century: 10 Women x 10 Decades presents ten film portraits about brave, pioneering, funny and unique women aged 0-100. Subjects include a Dame, knighted for her work in race relations; a wild swimmer; a feminist studying to be a Rabbi; a young mum evicted from her home; a body builder; and a vascular surgeon. Includes rarely seen archive footage of women in London over the past century.  Tickets £5, 7.30pm Hackney Attic, 270 Mare Street, E8 1HE. More information.

Performance: International Women's Day celebration

Wednesday 8 - Saturday 11 March 2017

To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, celebrating some of the inspiring, creative women working across the arts, Stratford Circus have put together a mini-festival of performances and events by women crossing music, talks, theatre and spoken word. More information.

Talk: The work of the Voluntary Aid Detachments

Thursday 9 March 2017

Women played a vital role in the First World War as VADs. These were members of the Voluntary Aid Detachments, a volunteer group of the Red Cross. Made up of men and women, the Detachments carried out a range of voluntary positions including nursing, transport duties, the organisation of rest stations, working parties, auxiliary hospitals. To celebrate Women's History Month, Gill Hutchinson will give a talk on the role of these women. 2pm to 3pm, Redbridge Central library. Cost and booking: £2, please book in advance at the library on 020 8708 2417 or online. More information.

Film: Made in Dagenham

Friday 10 March 2017

Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) works for the Ford Motor Co. plant in Dagenham, England. Despite performing the specialised task of sewing upholstery for car seats, women are classified as unskilled labour and paid much less than men. Encouraged by a sympathetic union representative, Rita agrees to bring the women's grievances to Ford. The meeting goes badly and, outraged by the company's lack of respect for them, Rita leads her colleagues to strike. Free screening, Stratford Library, 6.00pm. Find out more and book. Facebook event.

Talk: Badass Feminists from History

Friday 10 March 2017

Come and hear about the courage, initiative, intelligence, willpower and all-around badassery of some of our greatest foremothers. Part of the Women of the World Festival, 3pm, Weston Roof Pavilion, Level 6, Green side, Royal Festival Hall. More information.

Talk: Badass Lesbians from History

Saturday 11 March 2017

Get inspired by the courage, intelligence and willpower of some of our greatest lesbian foremothers. Part of the Women of the World Festival, 1:15 pm, Blue Bar, Level 4, Royal Festival Hall. More information.

Activity: Women Making Waves

Saturday 11 March 2017

Celebrate the lives and achievements of women whose adventures and stories have been lost to history: women like Ching Shih (who may have been one of the most powerful pirates in history), Phillis Wheatley (the first published African-American female poet) and Jeanne Baret (the first woman to have completed a circumnavigation of the world), amongst many others. Become a curator for the day and put together your own mini-exhibition of the pioneering women who made waves. Family fun, 12-3pm, National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF. More information.

Performance: Decorum

Sunday 12 March 2017

Who decides what good behaviour is? What are the rules for 21st century women? The rules we've been taught. The ones we have inherited. The ones we always obey. The ones we pass on. Decorum is an intergenerational exploration of rules, conduct and best behaviour, combining storytelling, movement and spoken word, created by students from Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets and local older women. Part of the Women of the World Festival at London Southbank Centre, 12.30pm-1pm at Riverside Terrace Café, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall. More information.

Conference: London’s women historians: a celebration and a conversation

Monday 13 Mar 2017

At the start of 2017, gender equality remains one of the most pressing issues in the historical profession. This event will also be an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of women doing history in the past, inaugurating a pop-up exhibition of twentieth-century London women historians at the IHR. This event is free and open to all, but advance registration is required. 12:30 to 20:00, IHR Wolfson Conference Suite, NB01/NB02, Basement, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. More information.

Activity: Book group Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown

Monday 13 March 2017

We aim to create an enjoyable shared experience in our monthly book group, which meets on the second Monday of every month. To mark Women’s History Month, March's book shall be by a female author about issues facing women in society. Just borrow Rubyfruit Jungle from the Idea Store, read it, then come along to the book group to discuss! Open to all.  7:00 – 8:30pm, Idea Store Chrisp Street, 1 Vesey Path, E India Dock Rd, Poplar, London E14 6BT. More information.

Talk: Famous women of the 20th century

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Join local historian Jef Page for this wide ranging illustrated talk which will feature a selection of famous women from well known authors Agatha Christie and Beatrice Potter to scientist Rosalind Franklin (discoverer of DNA). 6:30pm to 8pm, South Woodford library & gym. Cost and booking: £3/£1.50 concessions. Please book with the library on 020 8708 9067 or online. More information.

Talk: We're Not Finished!

Tuesday 14 March 2017 

The East End of London has been a hub of activism throughout history. Among the many political figures who have lived in and come from and worked in the East End, there have been many social movements and events to solidify the East End as a political area. This talk by Judith Garfield, director of Eastside Community Heritage, will explore some of these campaigns and some of stories from women who have been involved. Valence House Museum, Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 3HT, 15:00 – 17:00. More information.

Talk: East London women of protest

Thursday 16 March 2017

Talk to accompany the exhibition We're not finished! which is on throughout March 2017. 6:30pm to 8pm, Redbridge Central Library, Ground Floor. Enquiries: 020 8708 2409 or email

Activity: Heritage teatime

Friday 17 March 2017

Join us for a special themed teatime on the subject of women's recreation and leisure. Did you dance the night away at the Ilford Palais? Or perhaps you played cricket or tiddlywinks? Come along and share your memories or just listen to what others have to say. Gants Hill Library, 2pm to 3pm. Free, just turn up Enquiries: 020 9708 9274

Seminar: Travelling Ayahs and Amahs: Navigating Victimhood and Agency

Friday 17 March 2017

In the early 20th century, ayahs and amahs were a familiar sight on board ships, employed to care for the children of British families as they travelled to and from ‘home’. The literature, however, only interprets their experiences once on British soil, positioning them as victims of an inequitable colonial system, abandoned by their employers and in need of rescue. This paper moves the focus away from the metropole towards an ayah-centred understanding of the entire journey between sites of empire. Olivia Robinson, University of Oxford. 17:15 to 19:15, IHR Pollard Seminar Room, N301, Third Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. More information.

Study day: From Suffragettes to Feminists

Saturday 18 March 2017 

Join Michelle Johansen for a whistle stop tour of the changing lives of women in the 20th century, from the battle for equal voting rights to the women’s liberation movement. The subject is examined through a wide range of library and archive sources, such as press cuttings on fashion & beauty from the 1930s to feminist emphemera from the 1980s. Course suitable for all. No prior knowledge of the subject is required. 11am-4pm £37/£27 concs. Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate EC2M 4QH. More information.

Conference: An exploration of Black Muslims in British history and heritage

Saturday 18 March

Join Everyday Muslim for a day of presentations, spoken word and discussion as they begin to consider the views and debates around the representation of Black Muslims in British history and heritage. 10.30am, £8.00, Venue 2, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road E1 6LA. More information. Facebook event.

Talk: The First Woman Mayor of Bethnal Green

Saturday 18 March 2017

Delve into the archives at this fascinating talk about the life and career of L. Dorothy Benoly, the first woman Mayor of Bethnal Green, who served from 1933-1934. The Library holds personal diaries of her time in office, as well as her scrapbook of photos, invitations and newspaper clippings, which you will have a chance to browse first hand. 2.30-3.45pm FREE no booking required, Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives. More information.

Performance: Vera Lynn tribute concert

Saturday 18 March 2017

Patricia Hammond and Matt Redman perform hits from the 1940s to celebrate the 100th birthday of 'Forces Sweetheart' Vera Lynn. Dame Vera has a long connection with Barking, and lived in Upney Lane during the Second World War. 5-6pm, tickets £5. Valence House Museum, Becontree Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 3HT.  Booking is essential as numbers are limited, contact Valence House reception (020 8227 2034) Facebook event.

Talk: Women in East End Yiddish Theatre

Thursday 23 March 2017

Join BBC journalist David Mazower for his talk exploring the role immigrant women played in the development of Yiddish theatre in the East End. Women were a key part of the Yiddish theatre’s appeal, whether as chorus girls, music hall singers, dramatic actresses, or running their own theatre companies. Talented, independent and unconventional, their personal lives and relationships were followed as closely as their stage careers. 6.30-7.30pm FREE no booking required. Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, 277 Bancroft Road E1 4DQ. More information.

Talk: Woman and Revolution in the Black Arts Movement

Friday 24 March 2017

South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC) London mark the revolution of women’s rights with dialogue focusing on diaspora and where we are at with the Black Arts Feminist Movement. 7pm FREE, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road E1 6LA. More information.

Film: Suffragette

Tuesday 28 March 2017 

This film documents the foot soldiers of the early feminist movement and the women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal state. A brilliant way to raise awareness during Women’s History Month. 2pm-3.30pm, FREE, Idea Store Chrisp Street, 1 Vesey Path, E India Dock Rd, Poplar, London E14 6BT. More information.

Talk: Sophia - suffragette princess

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Anita Anand talks about Sophia Duleep Singh. Daughter of a Maharajah, god daughter to queen Victoria and celebrated fashion icon who risked it all for the women of Britain. 6pm, CPA room, off Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster. More information.

Film: The Clay Bird

Thursday 30 March 2017

Learn about the history of Bangladesh Independence, its culture, faith and the brutal political changes entering a small-town world in this film by female director Matir Moina. 4pm-5.30pm, FREE, Idea Store Chrisp Street, 1 Vesey Path, E India Dock Rd, Poplar, London E14 6BT. More information.

Talk: Black British Female Civil Rights Heroines

Friday 31 March 2017

The bias in schools gives the impression that racism and civil rights was an American issue and totally ignores the struggles Black British people endured. This presentation will provide the names and achievements of those Black women born or resident here that fought against British racism over the last 300 years.

Includes: Mary Prince, Phyllis Wheatley, Dame Jocelyn Barrow, Florence Mills, Mavis Best, Adelaide Hall, Sybil Phoenix, Connie Mark, Linda Bellos, Will Brown and many others. Issues covered include; virginity testing at Heathrow, deaths in custody, Saturday schools, Educationally Sub Normal classes, theatre, the Royal Navy, politics and much more. 6.30pm, Blue Room, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT. More information.

Talk: Glamorous brides - East End weddings between the wars

Friday 31 March 2017

An evening conversation on weddings, vintage dresses and wartime East London, with the book launch of The Wedding Girls. 6.30pm, Museum of London, tickets £15. More information.