Helen Sharman

It's A Woman's World

As the world unites to celebrate International Women’s Day this month (8 Mar), take the opportunity to recognise and enjoy the work of some of London’s leading ladies. From Florence Nightingale and the Suffragettes to Virginia Woolf and Zaha Hadid, this city has been shaped by some visionary and pioneering women.

For 63 years we have been ruled by one of the most unflappable and charitable monarchs ever: Queen Elizabeth II. While some countries struggle to pave the way for one female leader, we’re on to our second (first Margaret Thatcher, now Theresa May), as women increasingly rise to the top in other sectors of the capital, too.

But there’s still more work to be done. If the global events of 2016 taught us anything, it’s that the fight for women’s rights is far from over. Even in London, a city famed for its progressive outlook and equal opportunities, the divide between men and women – socially, politically and economically – remains startlingly wide. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that women around the world won’t be paid the same as men for another 170 years – a projection that many, particularly in the capital, are determined to prove wrong.

‘Events of the past year have shown that, despite great strides by the feminist movement, the world still speaks a largely male language,’ says Southbank Centre artistic director, Jude Kelly CBE, who founded this month’s WOW – Women of the World festival (7-12 Mar) in 2010.

‘More than ever, we must keep up the fight for gender equality and look at the far-reaching implications of the current political climate on our women and girls – from the localised to the global.’

Head to the WOW festival and hear from prominent international artists, writers and activists including actress Gillian Anderson, US author Angela Davis and co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine Mayer. They’re joined by politicians, business leaders and refugees for 200 events including talks, music and comedy. Highlights include What Does Brexit Mean for Women? (10 Mar) and Chella Quint’s one-woman show Adventures in Menstruating (11 Mar).

Elsewhere in the city, you’ll be confronted with countless examples of what is possible when women are given the freedom to go after their dreams and succeed. From dining and culture to science and entertainment, we urge you to experience what these extraordinary women in London have achieved.


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