International Women's Day 2014: Ten of the best places in Britain to be inspired

| 07 March 2014

Special festivals, the World War I centenary programme and dancing feet play their part in this year's International Women's Day

A black and white photo of a woman with an elaborate knotted hairstyle and jewellery
Admire JD 'Okhai Ojeikere's Gelatin silver prints on the Southbank for International Women's Day© JD 'Okhai Ojeikere, courtesy Galerie MAGNIN-A, Paris
Women of the World Festival 2014 at the Southbank Centre

Saturday and Sunday passes have sold out, but limited tickets are available for individual events and much of the programme is free at the Southbank’s broadminded weekend of events and exhibitions. It ranges from a debate on Page 3 in the company of Katie Price and a talk with adored actress Maxine Peake to club nights and two exhibitions: JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s Hairstyles and Headdresses is the first UK exhibition of work by the renowned Nigerian photographer who recently passed away, while Iraqi-born artist Jananne Al-Ani portrays the landscapes of the Middle East through films and photographs at the Hayward Gallery.

The Georgian House which became a First World War military hospital at Dunham Massey

National Trust-owned and set within a deer park, this Cheshire site was turned from a country estate into a temporary hospital by three women during the war. Discover their story in the recently-opened exhibition, Sanctuary from the Trenches – A Country House at War.

Victor Tardieu’s paintings of wartime nursing at the Florence Nightingale Museum

A French painter who served in World War I, Tardieu made oil depictions of the volunteer field hospital at Bourbourg, near Dunkirk, in 1915. Nearly a century on, they provide the museum – which has recently acquired them – with beautiful focal points for an examination of the history of nursing during the Great War and the role of female volunteers on the battlefields of France and Belgium. The Hospital in the Oatfield - The Art of Nursing in the First World War runs from March 13 – October 26 2014.

Tales of jewel trading at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter

Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery’s exhibition, An Adaptable Trade: The Jewellery Quarter at War (from June 14), considers the effect of World War I on the jewellery trade, revealing the role of women in an industry which adapted swiftly to the challenges of the time.

Downton Abbey style at Bath’s Fashion Museum

The status, class and position of women altered dramatically during World War I, as well as society’s views on what women were allowed to wear. Uniforms, civilian dress, memorabilia, propaganda and, glamorously, numerous costumes from the series Downton Abbey feature in The Great War in Costume: Family and Fashion on the Home Front (July 19 – September 5),  the Fashion Museum’s take on an era of change.

A forgotten philanthropist and badge-making in Liverpool

Find out about Emma Georgina Holt, a key figure behind the University of Liverpool halls of residence, in a talk at the city’s Sudley House (March 8, 1pm). Then join a special workshop at the International Slavery Museum, inspired by the women on the Black Achievers Wall. This badge-making session is called Girls are Great (1pm-4pm).

Poetry and song in Yorkshire

Huddersfield’s WomenCentre returns with an evening of singer-songwriters for a second year – this time featuring Iranian folk song, blues and a new piece of poetry created by Alison Lock and based on the thoughts of local women.

Comedy, performance and theatre with Bridport’s feminists

Top comedian Shappi Khorsandi is at Bridport Arts Centre on Sunday, but the weekend begins with a pop-up play about the Brontës on Friday and performers and stalls in Bucky Doo Square on Saturday. “This will be a very social gathering,” says Margie Savory, of hosts Bridfem, promising a midday surprise. Visit their Facebook page for full details.

The pull of pink and professorial insights at Cambridge Science Festival

Hundreds of female scientists are at this year’s festival – Wednesday sees the flagship event for the Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Initiative, followed by a talk, What’s Wrong with Pink?, in which neuroscientist Professor Melissa Hines discusses her research on girls’ preference for pink childhood toys (boys, conversely, have a reluctance to play with pink vehicles). The Association for Women in Science and Engineering also lays on an inspiring open day, and TV presenter Gia Milinovich chairs a panel session.

Three weeks of inspiration and performance in Dundee

Dance classes, choreographed performances, relaxation techniques for the mind and forensic science sessions all feature during Dundee Women’s Festival, running alongside the Women in Science Festival 2014 until March 24.


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