International Women’s Day returns on 8 March with the theme of #EmbraceEquity and events all over London to celebrate.
First celebrated in 1911, International Women’s Day exists to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness for women’s equality, and call for positive change advancing women.
From festivals to walking tours, cultural events to exhibits, there’s plenty going on in the capital this week.
Here are five of The Londoner‘s top picks for International Women’s Day in London this year.
1. WOW: Women of the World Festival
10-12 March, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX, Day Pass £45
The 13th edition of this festival returns to the Southbank Centre from 10-12 March, with a line-up bursting with talks, workshops, performances, and music.
Sessions such as ‘Women, Power & Misogyny’, ‘The Business of Beautiful Business’ and ‘WOW Big Ideas: Health’ will feature world-class speakers diving into some of the most important discussions surrounding the experiences, joys, and challenges of being a woman today.
The programme will include input from Julia Gillard, Kathy Burke, Elif Shafak, Shani Dhanda, Sali Hughes, Megan Barton-Hanson, Shobna Gulati, Stephanie Yeboah, Mary Portas, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in conversation with her local MP, Tulip Siddiq.
There’s plenty of free events happening around the festival too, including the WOW Marketplace, WOW Pop-up performances, and WOW Speed Mentoring.
Founded by Dame Jude Kelly in 2010, the WOW Foundation is a fast-growing global movement for gender equality, building a strong, independent network of leaders and festivals for change across the world.
2. Women of London Walking Tours
Various dates and locations, 2-2.5 hours, online booking, £25
The Women’s History Walking tour company, created by experienced tour guides, are hosting five tours around London to mark International Women’s Day.
‘Myths, Mothers & Matriarchs’ will explore the collection of the British Museum, providing an insight into how different cultures through history worshipped, feared and depicted women, while ‘Women in Art’ at the National Gallery will take a closer look at the masterpieces by female artists in the collection.
The ‘Women of Bloomsbury’ and ‘Women of Westminster’ tours will follow in the footsteps of influential artists, intellectuals, and politicians, who have left their mark on London’s cultural and historical scene.
‘Working Women of The East End’ aims to change the way the East End is seen, telling the stories of the women who lived and worked in this vibrant neighbourhood of London.
3. Born to Exist: The Woman I Know at the Royal Opera House
8 March, The Royal Opera House, Bow St, London, WC2E 9DD, 7.45pm, £16 (£11 for 16-25 year-olds with Young ROH)
The Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House will be hosting an exclusive performance of ‘Born to Exist: The Woman I Know’, created by Royal Ballet Emerging Choreographer Joseph Toonga.
Following the performance, there will be a panel discussion between Toonga, Royal Ballet creative producer Emma Southworth and dancers Aishwarya Raut, Nadia Gardner and Kloé Dean, will be chaired by broadcaster Brenda Emmanus OBE, exploring key themes in the dance sector.
The Royal Opera House is also offering the HerStory tour until 21 May 2023, telling the stories of the women who have managed, directed, and shaped both The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet Companies.
4. International Women’s Day 2023: Refugee Women’s Lived Experiences
8 March, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP, 10am-3pm, £11.55
The event at the Royal Albert Hall will include photography and art exhibitions, poetry, dance and music performances, speeches by MPs, activists, and the director of the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, Dr. Nooralhaq Nasimi MBE.
On display will be the contributions of Afghan and Iranian women who have worked in collaboration with Art Refuge and Hounslow Action for Youth (HAY).
The event aims to highlight the positive impact that refugees and asylum-seekers have on their host countries.
5. Bush Hall x Safe Gigs for Women Showcase
11 March, Bush Hall, Uxbridge Road, W12 7LJ, 3pm, tickets £10
An afternoon of live music and talks at Bush Hall, a restored Edwardian dance hall, to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The line-up features GENN, The Pearl Harts, Nectar Woode and Vanity Fairy at this independent venue in West London.
The event is raising funds for Safe Gigs for Women, a charity fighting against sexual harassment at live music events.
A spokesperson for the charity said: “Safe Gigs for Women is overjoyed to be able to bring together a day of inspiring talks and music in celebration of International Women’s Day.
“We look forward to seeing everyone there in support of the work we do to keep live music a safe and welcoming place for all.”