International Women’s Day 2018 – Women Change Manchester

International Women’s Day 2018 – Women Change Manchester

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Ihtezaz

Each year at SharpFutures we mark International Women’s Day by creating video content, hosting events and celebrating inspirational women from Manchester beyond across our social media channels.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2018 please see below for our ‘Women Change Manchester’, celebrating the region’s most inspiring women from history, presented by inspirational women from today.

Inspirational Women

To find out more about the inspirational women who feature in our film and what difference they made to Manchester please see the profiles below:

IWD_SF__0007_Annie Horniman

Annie Horniman

Annie founded the first regional repertory theatre company in Britain. The ‘Gaiety Theatre’ in Manchester was set up as a theatre for the working class and was founded against her father’s wishes by using money from her family’s tea fortune. She introduced works by contemporary playwrights by encouraging local writers who formed what was known as the Manchester School of dramatists.  In 1910 she was awarded the honorary degree of MA by Manchester University.


Annie Kenney

An English working class suffragette who became a leading figure in the Women’s Social and Political Union. She attracted the attention of the press and the public in 1905 when she, and Christabel Pankhurst, were imprisoned for several days for assault and obstruction, after heckling Sir Edward Grey at a Liberal rally in Manchester on the issue of votes for women, she was born in Springhead, Saddleworth.

Find out more about Annie Kenney here.


Diane Charlamagne

Lead singer of the 90’s Hip-Hop group Urban Cookie Collective who had a 1993 hit single “The Key the Secret”. Manchester-born Diane also collaborated with Goldie on his hit Inner City Life from break through 1995 album “Timeless” and sang with Moby and D Ream.

Read more about Diane Charlamagne here.

IWD_SF__0006_Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell

An English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era (1810 -1865), her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature. She lived in Failsworth in her early life.

She lived in Failsworth, find out more about Elizabeth Gaskell here.

IWD_SF__0005_Elizabeth Raffald

Elizabeth Raffald

Lived in Stockport, an English businesswoman, phenomenal multitasker, mother of 9 children, remembered chiefly for her 1769 book The Experienced English Housekeeper.

Read more about Elizabeth Raffald here.

IWD_SF__0004_Ellen Wilkinson

Ellen Wilkinson

Lived at 41 Coral Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, UK.

A working class woman who went to Manchester University, became a British Labour Party politician, suffragist and the first Minister of Education from July 1945 until her death.

Read about how she lead a march on foot all the way from Jarrow in the north east to London to campaign for workers rights here.


Emmeline Pankhurst

“A Girl Called Emmeline”, born on 15 July 1858 in the Manchester suburb of Moss Side. A British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement with a distinctly mancunian mentality who was a significant figure in attaining the right for women to vote.  In 1999 Time Magazine named Pankhurst as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

Read more about Emmeline Pankhurst here.

IWD_SF__0003_Hannah Mitchell

Hannah Mitchell1

An English suffragette and socialist. Born February 11, 1872, into a poor farming family in Derbyshire, she left her tough home life at an early age to fend for herself. She worked for many years in organisations related to socialism, women’s suffrage and pacifism. After the First World War she was elected to Manchester City Council and worked as a magistrate, before later working for Labour Party leader, Keir Hardie.

Read more about Hannah Mitchell here.


Louise Da-Cocodia

Jamaican born anti-racism campaigner and former Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Manchester, Louise moved to Britain in 1955 to train as a nurse through an invitation from the government in attempts to bolster the newly opened NHS’s employee numbers. In 1958, Louise Da-Cocodia qualified as a Staff Registered Nurse, and began a nursing career spanning 31 years. In 1966 she was appointed as Assistant Superintendent of District Nurses, the first black senior nursing officer in Manchester. She strove to promote equality of opportunity for Manchester’s inner-city residents in housing, education and employment.

She co-founded and steered a number of community enterprise schemes includingCariocca Education Trust and Arawak Walton Housing Association.

IWD_SF__0002_Lydia Becker

Lydia Becker

Lydia was a reader in the early British suffrage movement, as well as an amateur scientist with interests in biology and astronomy. Born in Chadderton, Lancashire, she founded the Ladies’ Literary Society in Manchester.

Becker was Secretary of the Manchester National Society for Womens’ Suffrage from 1867 until her death in 1890. She played a key role in the campaign for suffrage, encouraging women to openly campaign and speak publicly. She laid the basis for the early twentieth century suffrage campaign.

“Every boy in Manchester should be taught to darn his own socks and cook his own chops”

Read more about Lydia Becker here.

IWD_SF__0001_Margaret Ashton

Margaret Ashton

An English suffragist, local politician, pacifist and philanthropist, and the first woman City Councillor for Manchester.

Showing defiance against the early 1900’s culturally restrictive back drop, she was the first woman to run for election to Manchester City Council, and in 1908 became the first woman City Councillor when she was elected for Withington, Manchester; a testament to her progressive thought and intentions.  Ashton endorsed municipal mother and baby clinics and promoted free milk for babies and new mothers. In 1914 she founded the Manchester Babies’ Hospital.

Read more about Margaret Ashton here.


Shelagh Delaney

An English dramatist and screenwriter, best known for her debut work, A Taste of Honey (1958). Born in 1938 in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire. Attended Broughton Secondary Modern School.Her first play was deemed controversial for its time as it tackled issues of race, homosexuality and teenage pregnancy head on. The Smiths lead singer and lyricist, Morrissey said,

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that at least 50 per cent of my reason for writing can be blamed on Shelagh Delaney.

Read more about Shelagh Delaney here.

Sunny Lowry

Ethel “Sunny” Lowry MBE, Longsight, Manchester, was triumphantly the first British woman to swim the English Channel.  Whilst a student at Manchester High School for Girls she joined the Victoria Ladies Swimming Club of Victoria Baths, Longsight, Manchester. Lowry had a reputation for strong-mindedness displayed through her determination to succeed in attempts to cross the English Channel. One of only five British women to have ever successfully swum the Channel. At the age of 94, in the 2005 Honours list, she was awarded an MBE for services to swimming in the North-West. Sunny was inducted into the International Marathon Swimming Association’s Hall of Fame .

IWD_SF__0000_Sylvia Pankhurst M08232

Sylvia Pankhurst

An English campaigner for the suffragette movement She devoted herself to the cause of anti-fascism. A daughter of Dr. Richard Pankhurst and Emmeline Pankhurst. She attended the Manchester High School for Girls.

Read more about Silvia Pankhurst here.

Margaret Downes

Died at Peterloo campaigning about rights for the working class, read about it here.

The Peterloo massacre on Monday 16 August 1819 took place when a peaceful crowd, assembled to demand the reform of Parliament, was attacked by armed soldiers and yeomanry.

Olivia Shapley

A British radio producer and broadcaster. In 1934 an organiser of Children’s Hour programming in Manchester, Shapley became a regular presenter of Woman’s Hour. In the mid-1960s her Manchester home became a refuge (as a charitable trust) for single mothers. She was one of the first radio broadcasters and producers to take the microphone – sometimes accompanied by the seven-ton recording van – to people in the streets, into their homes and workplace.

Hear a radio interview with Olive Shapley from June 1976 here.

To see whereabouts in Manchester the film subjects were born, lived & worked, please refer to the map below.

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