Wigan will be transported back to 1918 on this year’s International Women’s Day as the borough celebrates 100 years of the suffragette.
Celebrities and gender equality activists will join with influential local women to host two free events on the day, Thursday 8th March, to mark 100 years since the first women were given the vote.
Residents are being invited to join in with one or both of the events to celebrate and learn more about the day and its history.
During the day Sunshine House in Scholes will be transformed back in time with a variety of workshops, guest speakers, original archives displays, food from the past, as well as a theatre performance about the Pit Brow Lasses of the Wigan coalfields, ‘Dirty Face’. There will be props and costumes which guests can wear to get into the spirit. Wigan pit brow lass Rita Culshaw, aged 84, will also be there.
BBC actress and CBBC host Vic Cook will present the event and draw upon her personal experiences as a female in comedy. Yvonne Eckersley, an archives volunteer, will talk about the growth of movement for women’s suffrage in Wigan and Kate Fussell will talk about her experience of being one of the first female surgeons.
During the evening Sunshine House will host a debate event with residents able to join in the discussions with a panel of key influential women from across the borough. The event will start with wartime singers and the panel will cover a range of issues from equality to the gender pay gap.
Local historian Tom Walsh will also join the panel. Tom is campaigning for recognition of Thorley Smith, the first MP to stand up for women’s suffrage, who was from Wigan.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressForProgress, which aims to call on people to forge a better working world, and keep motivated to create momentum in striving for gender parity. Started by the suffragettes in the early 1900’s, the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911.
Wigan Council has championed gender equality through its campaigns such as Believe In Her and Believe I’m Only Human which have created a platform to highlight role models in the community that take a stand against inequality and to inspire schools, colleges and other organisations to join in the conversation and challenge prejudice.
Cllr Nazia Rehman, lead member for community and family safety at Wigan Council is a panel member for the debate and has played a key role in the council’s Believe I’m Only Human campaign.
Cllr Rehman said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this year’s day which aims to make a positive difference for women everywhere and there’s something for everyone to get involved in at Sunshine House.
“We’ve done some brilliant work through our Believe in Her campaign, to tell inspiring stories of women and empower women to take the lead, and more recently with our Believe I’m Only Human campaign which looks at gender equality along with race, religion, sexuality, age and disability.
“We’re supporting the national theme of the day and calling on our residents to make a pledge in how they will #PressforProgress.”
Wigan Council is encouraging residents to sign up for a free ticket for either event and get involved in the day.
Daytime event: Thursday 8th March, 11am-3pm, Sunshine House Community Centre, Wellington Street, Wigan. The day will include a variety of workshops, guest speakers, original archives displays, food from the past, as well as a theatre performance about the Pit Brow Lasses of the Wigan coalfields, ‘Dirty Face’. Places are limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis.
Evening event: Thursday 8th March, 6pm-9pm, Sunshine House Community Centre, Wellington Street, Wigan. The event will start with wartime singers and refreshments followed by a debate with panel members including Jo Platt MP, Lisa Nandy MP, Tom Walsh and Cllr Nazia Rehman. Places are limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis.