Celebrating Women’s History Month

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month: a celebration dedicated to the recognition of achievements of women socially, culturally, politically and economically throughout history. It takes place in March in the UK, USA and Australia, and in October in Canada. The UK first adopted it in 2011.

Events are held throughout the month, with many taking place on International Women’s Day on March 8th. A few that have caught our eye are detailed below:

The National Army Museum will spotlight how women have helped shape the British Army with a number of talks and events, including:

A fascinating talk about the Women of SOE and the Ravensbrück camp on Friday March 8th. Towards the end of the Second World War, seven women of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) were captured behind enemy lines in Nazi-occupied France. Violette Szabo, Odette Sansom, Lilian Rolfe, Denise Bloch, Cecily Lefort, Yvonne Baseden and Eileen Nearne had risked their lives working as couriers and wireless operators, aiding the local resistance in preparation for the Allied invasion and paving the way for victory. Arrested, interrogated and eventually imprisoned in Ravensbrück concentration camp, it was the Nazis’ intention that they would disappear without trace. Unprotected by the Geneva Convention and beyond Allied help, the lives of seven women hung in the balance. This is the story of their recruitment, training, missions and eventual fate. The event is free but booking is recommended.

On Saturday 9th March visitors can drop into the Museum’s Atrium to learn all about The Adventures of Mother Ross. At the end of the 17th century, Christian Davies – also known as Kit Cavanagh or Mother Ross – joined the British Army disguised as a man to try to find her lost husband. She was a respected and well-loved soldier, serving in both the Nine Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession, until her secret was discovered. Talks will take place in the Atrium at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

Elizabeth Lockart-Mure tells the little-known story of The Wasbies in the Second World War on Friday 15th March. During the Second World War, the 14th Army was supported by an intrepid group of women known colloquially as the Wasbies – the Women’s Auxiliary Service (Burma) or WAS(B).

Across thousands of miles of inhospitable jungle, in conditions of tremendous difficulty and sometimes within sound of the guns, the Wasbies ran char and wads, mobile and static canteens, providing the troops with a constant supply of food and drink. Elizabeth Lockart-Mure’s account of these brave women is taken from the surviving diary of Maria Pilbrow, documenting her experiences in India and Burma with the 14th Army. There will be a book signing with the author after the event. The event is free but booking is recommended.

To find out more, book tickets and see what other events are on at the National Army Museum, please visit: www.nam.ac.uk/whats-on or telephone: 020 7730 0717.

Covering very different aspects of Women’s History, Southwark Cathedral will host a day of talks about women’s stories, old and new, on Saturday 23rd March, 10am – 4pm.

Jennifer Potter – The Jamestown Brides: the true story of young Englishwomen traded for tobacco in early Virginia. In 1621, fifty-six Englishwomen crossed the Atlantic in response to the Virginia Company of London’s call for maids “young and uncorrupt” to make wives for the planters of its struggling new colony in Virginia. Who were these brave young women, and what propelled them overseas into a perilous future? Jennifer Potter reveals their compelling story.

Past Tense, Present Stories: new historical fiction from the female perspective. Authors from innovative publisher Unbound come together to celebrate the unsung roles of women in our human story, from our earliest survival through to 20th century wartime and the present day, and from the pioneering of shamans, suffragettes, students and scientists to the joy and pain of mothers and lovers.

Naomi Clifford – “The cruellest thing”: The hanging of Eliza Fenning. In 1815 Eliza Fenning’s employer’s family became ill after a dinner of steak and dumplings Eliza Fenning was charged with attempted murder. Found guilty at a hasty and shambolic trial, she was executed outside Newgate prison. Naomi Clifford explores the short life of a Regency servant whose case became one of the most contentious of the age.

Kelcey Wilson-Lee – Daughters of Chivalry: The Forgotten Children of Edward I. In this vibrant account of the five daughters of the great English king, Edward I, Kelcey Wilson-Lee reveal the lives of these sisters – Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth – who ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages

Elizabeth Norton – The Lives of Tudor Women. The turbulent Tudor age never fails to capture the imagination. But what was it actually like to be a woman during this period? This was a time when death in infancy or during childbirth was rife; when marriage was usually a legal contract, not a matter for love, and the education of women was minimal, at best.

For more information and ticket sales, please visit: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stories-of-women-2019-a-day-of-talks-exploring-womens-history-tickets-52865925406 or contact ruth.miller@southwark.anglican.org

The People’s History Museum in Manchester will hold an International Women’s Day guided tour on Friday 8th March 2019, 11.30am – 12.30pm.

Visitors will be able to explore the lives of women reformists, Chartists, suffragists, suffragettes, MPs, radicals and revolutionaries. This guided tour of the main galleries will explore how women have campaigned for equality over the past 200 years.

For more information and to book, please visit: www.phm.org.uk/events/international-womens-day-guided-tour/ or telephone: 0161 838 9190.

To find out what events celebrating International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month are on near you, contact your local museum or library. Alternatively, please visit: