Modern-day suffragists to display artwork to mark International Women’s Day

The Girl Talk Youth Group from Manchester (Photography - Nick Harrison)

Young people across south Manchester are taking part in a new project that will empower them to become campaigners of the future to mark International Women’s Day.

The Game Changers project is exploring the movement of the lesser-known female campaigners – the suffragists – and is helping the youngsters from Us Girls Youth Group in Stockport, Trafford Youth Cabinet and Girl Talk Youth Group in Manchester learn about the peaceful methods they used to campaign – unlike the more militant and more famous suffragettes.

The young people have created artwork from what they have learnt as a tribute to the suffragists including banners, sashes and posters that will be on display across various museums and art galleries, on Saturday, March 9, the day after International Women’s Day.

Nadia Ali, youth worker, who runs Us Girls Youth Group, based at Heaton Norris Community Centre, Stockport, said: “It has been great for the young women at the group to take part in this project – they have learnt a lot about the work of the suffragists and the important role they played in securing the vote and justice for all.”

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As part of the project, which is run by Tandem Theatre and made possible by a grant by Heritage Lottery Fund, the young people have researched suffragists in their areas by visiting the People’s History Museum and Archives+ in Manchester and re-enacting the 1908 Manchester Demonstration by marching through Lark Hill Place, and Salford Museum and Art Gallery.

Aqeel Burton, Youth Participation Manager for the Manchester youth group at Trinity House Resource Centre, said: “They have enjoyed attending skills workshops to help them become effective campaigners and leaders of the future by building self-esteem, social skills, confidence and raising aspirations, and are looking forward to the taking part in International Women’s Day celebrations and displaying their work.”

Frances Nutt, Artistic Director at Tandem Theatre, based in Salford, who has been overseeing the project, says the high-profile role of Emmeline Pankhurst and the more militant activities of the suffragettes can sometimes overshadow others who campaigned for women’s suffrage.

She added: “We wanted to highlight the lesser known suffragists, who used law-abiding methods to campaign, to be an inspiration to young people today, as campaigning for women’s rights is still as relevant.”

The Game Changers project is taking place across all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, all with their own art displays this weekend, on Saturday, March 9. See below for details of a display near you:

The project will culminate in a joint event on April 13 – where young women will come together to display artwork and take part in a performance and mock debate at Manchester Central Library recreating the Women’s Bazaar of 1912.