‘Women: Work and Power’ Launches in the City of London to Celebrate Female Achievements Throughout History

Launching on London History Day (31 May 2018), the City of London Corporation introduces ‘Women: Work and Power’, a major six-month long season of over 70 events hosted in the Square Mile.

The packed programme of special exhibitions, talks, tours, live entertainment, music, and theatre performances celebrates women’s contributions to politics, education, health, science, and the arts, including many free events. From matchstick makers and musicians to Suffragettes, brewers, bankers, bishops, and Bajan nurses, Women: Work and Power highlights the outstanding achievements of women, both, famous and unheard of, through the ages.

The programme takes its inspiration from the Mayor of London’s ‘#BehindEveryGreatCity’ campaign, which focuses on London’s role in the women’s suffrage movement and addresses both the progress that’s been made in terms of gender equality in the last century and the steps that still need to be taken.

Key events in the season include:

  • Fawcett Society talks (5 & 14 Jun, 13 Sept, 2 Nov) – on gender equality and women’s rights
  • Spitalfields Music in the City (8 Jun, 20 Jul, 11 Sept) – leading female musicians take to the stage in the City livery halls
  • Nursery Theatre (8 Jun, 26 Sept, 16 Nov) – comedy theatre performed by top female improvisation acts
  • Sounds Like London (18-29 Jun) – women and grassroots acts take to the streets to perform some of greatest rock and pop songs
  • Sculpture in the City (from 27 Jun) – featuring work created by internationally-renowned female artists
  • Upswing/Motionhouse (2-3 Aug) – women take centre stage for an exhilarating evening of circus, dance, and spectacular surprises
  • Heroines of Cinema (13-15 Aug) – a film season celebrating women in front of, and behind, the camera
  • City of Women (22-23 Sept) – a new audio composition celebrating women, in their own words, presented at Leadenhall Market
  • British-Barbadian Nursing Revolution (28 Sept – 31 Oct) – a stirring Guildhall Art Gallery exhibition celebrating the unsung achievements of the Bajan nurses who helped deliver Britain’s post-war baby boom
  • Huguenots of Spitalfields (1-31 Oct) – a series of events about the extraordinary story of the Huguenots, who fled religious persecution in France during the 16th to 18th centuries and settled in England
  • Processions in the City (20 Oct) –  leading arts charity, Artichoke, returns to the City to stage an innovative and engaging production

The season of events takes place across prominent City venues such as the Museum of London, Bishopsgate Institute, Guildhall Yard, St Paul’s Cathedral, Leadenhall Market, The Nursery Theatre, the Bank of England and London Metropolitan Archives. It responds to significant events and anniversaries occurring in 2018, including the centenary of the Representation of the People Act and the 70th anniversary of the NHS.

Graham Packham, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee,said:
“Dubbed the ‘year of women’, 2018 is an ideal time to highlight the achievements of these women, who have made a significant impact on the world, either, through pioneering legislative change or by making their mark in their chosen field.
“Some of them are famous, others, unheard of, but all of them undoubtedly worthy of being celebrated by Women: Work and Power.”

Guildhall Yard film screening on women workers’ rights
11am-5pm, 31 May, FREE
Special short film screenings of archive footage on the struggle for women workers’ rights and the Suffragette movement, with contributions from the London’s Screen Archives, London Metropolitan Archives, and the BFI. Complemented with a cheese and charcuterie market, hosted by some of London’s oldest cheese and meat producers.

Step back in time to a Victorian classroom at Guildhall Art Gallery
10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm, 31 May, FREE
Part of London History Day, Guildhall Art Gallery invites visitors to sit up straight, mind their manners, and enter the world of the Victorian classroom. Inspired by the painting, The First London School Board, featuring suffragists, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and Emily Davies, discover what life was like for Victorian schoolchildren, and the different opportunities available to girls and boys.

Women and Power at London Metropolitan Archives
10.30am–4pm, 31 May, FREE (booking essential)
Part of London History Day, this series of creative workshops, a document display, talks, and tours explore the themes of women and power.

Hidden women: Frame carvers of the 17th century – a special talk at Guildhall Art Gallery
2.30pm–3pm, 1 June, FREE
Gerry Alabone, Senior Conservator, National Trust, explores whether the frame from the oldest painting in Guildhall Art Gallery’s collection was carved by a woman. One of 20 paintings depicting judges after the Great Fire of London, the 17th-century frame is beautifully carved, in ‘Auricular style’.

Centenary of women’s suffrage: How the vote was won – a special talk at the Museum of London
6pm-8pm, 5 June, £5 (plus booking fee)
Exploring the history behind the fight for the vote, this compelling talk produced by the Fawcett Society and chaired by Lord Daniel Finkelstein, reveals some of the untold stories of the Suffrage movement including the Indian Suffragettes and the international fight for the vote. Includes special contributions from researcher and writer, Elizabeth Crawford, and academic historian, Dr Sumita Mukherjee.

The Nursery Theatre Presents: The Broadgate Garden Society
8pm-10pm, 8 June, FREE
London’s top female improvisers use audience stories about their grandmothers as inspiration to deliver extraordinary scenes that delve into the importance of women in society.

‘Smarter cities’ – discussion panel at the Bank of England
6pm-8pm, 14 June, £5
Led by the Fawcett Society, this discussion panel with Joanna Place, Chief Operating Officer at the Bank of England, and Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), delves into the future of the workplace, with an emphasis on the implications for industries dominated by women.

Sounds Like London – the Square Mile
12.15pm-1pm and 1.15pm-2pm, 18-29 June, FREE
Performers will take to London’s streets to deliver their renditions of great pop and rock songs from modern music history in a lunchtime series designed to celebrate grassroots talent and women in music.


  • 18-25 June – Walbrook Road and Cannon St Junction (outside Bloomberg)
  • 9-26 June – Bow Churchyard
  • 20-27 June – Peter’s Hill (opposite St Paul’s Cathedral)
  • 21 June – Guildhall Library, Aldermanbury
  • 22 June – Cheapside and New Change Junction
  • 28 June – Watling Street (by the Cordwainer Statue)
  • 29 June – One New Change

Women of the East – guided walk from Monument tube station (Fish Street Hill exit)
Selected dates in June, July, August and September, FREE
A guided walk to discover how Suffragettes used iconic locations in the City to further their cause. Explore the history of earlier political activists, from the women of Billingsgate to anti-slavery campaigners, free-spirited medieval nuns, and great abbesses. Dates: 4, 14, 18, 29 June; 2, 11, 12, 16, 26, 30 July; 2, 6, 16, 20, 30 August; 3, 5, 13, 17 & 27 September. 11am on Thursdays, 2pm on Mondays and 6pm on 11 July and 5 September.

Women of the West – walking tour from St Paul’s tube station (Exit 1, Cheapside)
Selected dates in June, July, August and September, FREE
Walking tour of the City, taking in stories of forgotten women workers, medieval business owners, famous queens, and 20th-century heroines. Grim tales of a woman’s work during the plague, Suffragette activity and two of the most powerful women in the City’s history conspire to offer a new insight into the lives of women Londoners. Dates: 4, 13, 14, 18, 29 June; 2, 12, 16, 26, 30 July; 2, 6, 16, 20, 30 August; 3, 13, 15, 17 & 27 September. 11am-1pm on Mondays and 2-4pmon Thursdays.

See www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/womenworkpower for further information and contact details