Published: Monday, 28th February 2022

Inspirational women will lead Medway’s International Women’s Day celebrations on Tuesday, 8 March.

We are proudly supporting the international campaign with a number of events and special guest speakers.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Break the Bias. Events will be held for residents of all ages to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias and take action for equality.

Break the bias at Medway Park

Medway Park will host a spectacular afternoon of fitness sessions, an information marketplace zone and an inspiring line-up of guest speakers, including EastEnders actress Balvinder Sopal.

We have teamed up with partner organisations including Kent Police, Medway Task Force and This Girl Can for the exciting inclusive event at Medway Park in Gillingham from 12.30pm until 7pm.

Sportswomen including Commonwealth England Netball Captain, Ama Agbeze, and Team GB athlete and Commonwealth Bar Champion, Georgia-Mae Fenton, alongside members of the GB Tag Rugby Team will share their stories to residents of how they broke the bias in their specialist fields. A full list of guest speakers will be available to view on our website in due course.

Women and girls of all ages are encouraged to attend the event to celebrate women, find out about available services across Medway, sign up to fitness classes and receive free health checks.

Medway Sport will be offering 15-minute taster sessions of multiple fitness classes which are available at council-run gyms across Medway including Pilates, group cycle, legs, bums and tums, Zumba, BuggyFit, Bootcamp and DanceFit. Other sport club organisations will be attending the event, including GB Tag Rugby, Olympia Boxing, Chatham Maritime Watersports, Anchorians Football Club and many more.

Residents will also be given the opportunity to race alongside their sporting heroes with an event taking place on the floodlit track from 5pm until 6pm. The Your Pace, Your Race running event will see residents complete as many laps as they like, or are comfortable with, inspired by the day’s special guests.

Young women from Medway schools have also been invited to the educational event to celebrate women’s achievements and raise awareness about equality. This event supports our aspiration to become a Child-Friendly City.

Free taster activities

This event is free and booking is not necessary. Residents are encouraged to turn up and get involved in the International Women's Day celebration.

Discover Medway’s feminist heroes

Libraries across Medway are celebrating International Women’s Day and encouraging female residents to come together to honour their favourite writers and learn about women of the past.

Our Circle Of Six Women project will see the return of author Jenny Godfrey for International Women’s Day. The project, which has received additional funding from the Arts Council, uncovers local feminist heroes with personal connections to Gillingham and links to the Suffragette movement. The Six Women are Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Dame Kathleen Courtney, Dr Lorna Wing, Rosemary Desmond Boswell Tonks, Verna Holmes and Eileen (Tirzah) Garwood. Author Jenny Godfrey will be hosting a free public talk at Gillingham Library to discuss the Six Women, including Kathleen Courtney, Suffragist and peace campaigner and the action that was taken for women’s equality in 1911. Residents will be able to learn about the life and the work of the Gillingham Suffragettes on Tuesday, 8 March, from 7.30pm until 9pm.

Local artist Nicole Mollett has painted portraits of the six women, which will be on display in Gillingham from the end of March. This exciting commission is supported by the Welcome Back Fund.

A new exhibition will also open to the public to raise awareness of the history of the Suffrage movement in Medway. The Fight for Rights: Women’s Suffrage in Medway will open at Gillingham Community Hub Library from Monday, 7 March until Thursday, 31 March. The illustrated exhibition covers issues such as the 1832 Rights of Women Petition, Black Friday, late Victorian Suffrage and other issues, with real newspaper reports available to view.

Residents are also encouraged to enter their favourite female writer into the Queens of Literature competition which launches on Tuesday, 8 March. The competition encourages Medway Library readers to vote for their favourite female writers, to see who the queen of queens will be. A shortlist will be announced on Wednesday, 4 May and the final winner will be announced on Her Majesty The Queen’s birthday, Saturday, 11 June.

Come together and inspire each other

Dee O’Rourke, Medway Council’s Assistant Director of Culture and Community, said: “I am incredibly pleased that we’re marking International Women’s Day with a range of celebrations. The fantastic event at Medway Park is a great way for women of all ages to come together and inspire each other. I would also encourage residents, of all ages and genders, to join in our celebrations at Gillingham Library and find out more about the six amazing women who paved the way for future generations.”

Find out more about International Women’s Day in Medway and find events at Medway libraries.

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