March was Women’s History Month and in Manchester there were tons of events to celebrate it and International Women’s Day on March 8th 2016. Similarly to last year, Wonder Women festival was held across the city featuring film screenings, art exhibitions and special events. There was also the annual Reclaim The Night march through the streets of Manchester in late February.
I finally had the chance to visit the Pankhurst centre (which is a little hard to find, as it is in the middle of the Manchester Royal Infirmary & is only open on Thursdays). The centre is the former home of Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters and is the location of the first meeting of the Women’s Social and Political Union and the birthplace of the Suffragette movement. It’s a really interesting museum and acts as a women’s community centre continuing the legacy of the building. I also attended the art exhibition What IS She Wearing at Manchester Art Gallery by Instigate Arts which explored the relationship between fashion and how it is used to explore gender, sexuality and identity, this was really interesting and included performances, sculptures and installations around the gallery.
I also attended Reclaim The Night on the 25th of February, chanting and singing down the streets of Manchester, it started in Owens Park, Fallowfield and finished at the Manchester University Student Union on Oxford Road. Over 3500 people attended. This was the first Reclaim The Night I’ve attended and I absolutely loved it, the atmosphere was full of such energy, noise and a passion for what we were doing. If you don’t know, Reclaim The Night is a protest movement against street harassment, victim blaming and rape culture. As we walked through the streets we faced both support and backlash from local residents and drivers, some revving their engines to try and drown us out but that was definitely a minority of the people we encountered. Overall, it was a really great experience and I would love to attend next year.