To mark International Women’s Day (Friday 8th March), we will be hosting Care International’s March4Women event on Sunday 3rd March.
March4Women has moved indoors for the first time since the event began seven years ago, taking on a rally format – rather like the Suffragettes who used our venue. Over 1600 people are expected to attend the event which will include speeches, music, discussions, entertainment and more. Last year marked the 100th anniversary since the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed into law, eventually enabling 8.4 million women the freedom to vote.
The building in which Central Hall Westminster now runs as an events venue – the Methodist Central Hall – is no stranger to holding events and gatherings relating to supporting the rights of specific groups people and especially towards women’s rights.
Here are just some of those significant dates
The Six-Point Group campaign (British feminist group) held an event to demand the amendment of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act. Among the speakers that night were Lady Frances Balfour, Frank Briant and Rebecca West.
- 10th November 1921
The Green, White and Gold Fair took place in the building. Attended by the Catholic Women’s Suffrage Society, the Federation of Women Civil Servants and the Women’s Freedom League.
- December 1921
The London Society for Women’s Service and their AGM was held here which focused on ‘economic equality’.
- March 1923
Nearly every type of women’s organisation was represented at the Equal Franchise Demonstration.
The Minister for Health addressed the National Federation of Women’s Institutes and the National Council of Women in Great Britain.
International gatherings met for the opening of the fourth Triennial Conference of the Associated Country Women of the World.
Women staged another demonstration to support the Equal Citizenship (Blanket) Bill, aimed at encouraging equality for men and women in over 30 laws. Speakers included pacifist and writer Vera Brittain, Dr Edith Summerskill and Mrs Margaret Corbett-Ashby.
- June 1948
There was another demonstration for ‘Women Demand Equal Pay for Equal Work, with speakers including were Lady Megan Lloyd George, MPs David Eccles, J.P.W. Mallelieu and Mrs Eirene White.
Women wanted to commemorate the end of World War I in 1918 with an occasion. Chaired by the Conservative MP, Joan Vickers, and attended by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, Shirley Williams (the daughter of Vera Brittain) and Edith Summerskill.
A year before the 1975 Sexual Discrimination Act, and shortly after the Equal Pay Act, representatives of women’s organisations proceeded to Parliament from our building to support a Private Member’s Bill.
- November 1980
The Women in Media group in co-operation with the Fawcett Society (the oldest women’s rights group) and representatives from 66 organisations came to a Women’s Action Day. Special guests included Dame Margery Corbett-Ashby, Annie Reid and Sybil Morrison, Mrs Jill Craigie and Dr Shirley Summerskill. During the event several MPs from all parties joined the gathering, chaired by Mrs Jane Finlay, Deputy Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Most recently and as a fitting occasion, in a way, going full circle, some of the production and set-up for the scenes of the 2015 film ‘Suffragette’ took place here. Even at the end of last year we hosted a more 21st century-style event for women when Women in Data held their annual conference in the Great Hall which was attended by nearly 1,000 people.
Most appropriately for our venue, the March4Women event will be led by women’s rights activist and international campaigner Dr Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, both leaders of the British Suffragette movement.
We’re proud of our history here at Central Hall and proud to be hosting March4Women.
The event takes place between 2.15pm and 4.15pm and tickets are available from the Care International website.