Women's Equality Day 2019: What to Do in London
August 26th is the day in the US calendar that commemorates the adoption of the 19th amendment into the United States Constitution. The 19th amendment prohibits the federal government and each state from refusing citizens the vote based on their gender. Women’s Equality Day serves to celebrate the day in 1920 when the US made equality in the voting booth law. It also offers a day when continuing issues of inequality for women and girls are brought to the forefront of national discourse. But we don’t have anything in the UK calendar to commemorate the passing of the Representation of the People Act on 2nd July, 1928. That's the day when ballot box parity between men and women of the electorate became enshrined in law, with women finally able to vote in elections from the age of 21, the same age as men at the time. And we don’t have a date in the calendar to celebrate the achievements of the women’s suffrage movement as a political and protesting force, or to honour the lives lost in the pursuit of the cause, lives lost because of discriminatory laws and the need to protest against them. In 2018, the UK marked the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, a previous Act of Parliament that extended the right to vote to women over 30. It did so with a number of events and year-long exhibitions, TV programs and talks. But still, there is no one day which has been chosen so that the country can look back and celebrate achievements in the pursuit of women’s equality, and look forward at the work which remains undone. Perhaps Women’s Equality Day should be the 2nd July in the UK. Maybe it should be another date. Whatever it should be, for now we thought we’d give you some ideas of how you can mark the US event in London, by learning about the UK’s own struggles to achieve equality for women.
Museum of London
The Suffragette display in the Museum of London is one of the most complete such collections in the country. Items include banners and newspaper clippings, letters and medals and photographs, all serving to tell the story of the heroic women who risked and gave their lives in pursuit of equality. You can find the display in the People's City room.
A Bloomsbury-based independent publisher and bookshop, Persephone Books reprints fiction and non-fiction works by mid-20th century women writers. They focus on titles that were largely ignored, neglected or poorly promoted at the time of their original publication. Each has something to offer modern readers interested in neglected 20th century female voices.
The Feminist Library
Entirely volunteer-run and much cherished, The Feminist Library is at the centre of feminist and activist thought in London. It has been ever since it opened in 1975. With a particularly focus on second-wave feminism texts, the library’s main catalogue of fiction and non-fiction works is extensive. In addition, they've got an awesome collection of 700 periodicals, journals and newsletters created by feminist groups across the planet.
60 Years Room at Tate Britain
Next up, is this fully female room at Tate Britain. This room - part of the Walk Through British Art perma-exhibition at Tate Britain - tells an important story. Showcasing the impact of female artists on the modern history of British art, celebrating the diversity of the artists featured and focusing in on key themes, movements and events, the 60 years rooms attempts to address the clear imbalance between male and women artists across history and right now, in gallery space, in payment, profile and privilege. How successful it is in that, we don’t know. It is clear that much more is needed. What is certain is that this gallery is a great place to view works by Emin, Sarah Lucas, Bridget Riley, Mona Hatoum and many, many more important women artists.
Luminary Bakery is a vital and innovative and just plain delicious social enterprise. It’s a beautiful bakery with a big heart. Created to offer opportunities to women whose ambitions have been stymied by social and economic disadvantage, the company helps women gain confidence, transferable skills and a future career. It does this through courses, work experience and paid positions across their growing bakery business. So their cafe in Stoke Newington is the place to go for a big slice of positivity, progress and cake. So those are our recommendations for what to get up to this Women's Equality Day. But if you have any to add, let us know in the comments below. Still looking for things to do this month? Take a peek at our guide to summer in London.