From music to marches and empowering new festivals, events abound for this year's IWD (8th March)

International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over 100 years: the first gathering in 1911 was supported by over a million people across central Europe, building on campaigns for women’s equality across the west.

But, while we’ve come a long way since that initial event, experts predict it will be another two centuries before we achieve full gender parity. What’s more, the Pankhurst-Fawcett Scorecard - launched last year to measure progress across five key areas for women across Manchester - has revealed our city has worryingly regressed since 2019. 

2019 02 04 Emmeline Pankhurst 2018
The birthplace of Suffragette founder Emmeline Pankhurst, Manchester is worryingly regressing when it comes to women’s equality

All of which means that IWD, as both a global celebration of women’s achievements and a call to action, is still very much needed. With a host of happenings on and around the day (Sunday 8th March), we’ve rounded up some of the best in Manchester… 

20 STORIES X ELLE FOR ELLE | 20 Stories | Friday 6th March

Join Spinningfields restaurant 20 Stories for a buffet and Q&A panel with some of the most influential women in Manchester at this breakfast event, which will be raising money for domestic abuse charity Elle for Elle. Needless to say, there’ll be a cracking view too. Spinningfields will also be marking both IWD and World Book Day (5th March) by decorating The Avenue steps with 12 vibrant book covers by acclaimed female authors, from Pride and Prejudice to The Handmaid's Tale

20 Stories, No. 1 Spinningfields 1 Hardman Square, Manchester M3 3EB (8-10am; tickets £25 at 

WALK FOR WOMEN | Manchester Cathedral | Saturday 7th March

Manchester’s annual flagship IWD event, this empowering march starts at Manchester Cathedral and finishes at Central Library; where there’ll be an IWD marketplace, networking and activities from 1.30pm. Anyone can take part (you don’t have to be a woman) so why not bring an instrument and join in?

Manchester Cathedral, Victoria St, Manchester M3 1SX (12pm, parade starts 12.30pm; free)

2019 02 20 Walk For Women
Walk for Women is the City Council’s flagship event

A SUFFRAGETTE IN AMERICA | Working Class Movement Library | Saturday 7th March

Published for the first time, A Suffragette in America chronicles Sylvia Pankhurst’s experiences during two lecture tours of North America in 1911 and 1912; from the garment workers’ strike of Chicago to conditions for black people and women. In this fascinating talk, its editor and Sylvia biographer Katherine Connelly will discuss how these experiences helped propel the Suffragette movement in Britain.   

Working Class Movement Library, 51 Crescent, Salford M5 4WX (2-4pm; free)  

SUFFRAGETTE CITY | The Refuge | Saturday 7th March

Another annual staple, The Refuge’s popular IWD shindig sees a day of music curated by some of the industry’s local leading ladies: featuring both emerging and established talent, expect everyone from Philippa Jarman to Disco Mums. With proceeds going to a range of women’s charities, can 2020 top last year’s £3000?

The Refuge, Oxford St, Manchester M60 7HA (2pm-3am; tickets £6 at

2020 02 07 Refuge Suffragette City Reeshy
Reeshy is amongst those performing at Suffragette City

WOMEN IN MEDIA CONFERENCE | People's History Museum | 7th - 8th March

Back for its fifth year, the Women In Media conference features workshops, panels and Q&As from inspirational women across a diverse range of fields; from TV to radio, PR to publishing. A must for all those considering a career in media, it’s also for a great cause - proceeds go to Manchester Action on Street Health, a charity that helps female sex workers break the cycle.

People's History Museum, New Ct St, Manchester M3 3ER (9.30am-5.30pm; tickets from £16.76 at

WOMANIFEST | Deansgate Hilton | 7th - 8th March

Launched to coincide with IWD, this new woman’s empowerment and lifestyle show promises a weekend of entertainment, workshops, seminars, pop up shops and coaching services…not to mention gin and Prosecco aplenty. There’ll also be fashion shows, modelled by a diverse range of women, and an inspiring story stage. Fancy treating yourself? Go VIP and get a £100 goody bag and extra perks galore.

Deansgate Hilton, 303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ (10.30am-5.30pm; tickets £34 at

2019 01 20 Womanifest Founders
Womanifest founders Jodes and Roxy

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY | Pankhurst Centre | Sunday 8th March

As former home of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, there are few better places to celebrate IWD than the Pankhurst Centre, which will be hosting a full day of activities: songs from She Choir, Q&As with those behind First in the Fight, flag-making with the Small Fry Collective and more besides. The Pankhurst Centre will also be hosting a Drink & Draw the previous Thursday. 

Pankhurst Centre, 60-62 Nelson St, Manchester M13 9WP (10am-4pm; free registration on

MUJERES | HOME | Sunday 8th March

Part of HOME’s ¡Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival, Mujeres (women) features five short films made by contemporary Spanish female filmmakers, spanning everything from aging punk mothers to Valencian pueblos. After more IWD action at HOME? Also check out Figs in Wigs’ live art feminist adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel Little Women. Spanish culture vulture? Cervantes Institute will also be celebrating IWD, with a literary exploration of Don Quixote and Elizabeth Gaskell.

HOME, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester M15 4FN (1.15pm; tickets £7.50 at

2020 02 07 Suc De Sindria
Catalan film Suc de Sindria (Watermelon Juice) is part of Mujeres

SHAY D PRESENTS QUEENS OF ART: WOMEN IN HIP HOP | Deaf Institute | Sunday 8th March

Curated by female rapper and spoken word poet Shay D, Queens of Art is the first ever all-female hip hop tour. Headlined by Beats 1 DJ Ellie Prohan and Shay herself, the evening promises an exciting roster of talent - unpacking a range of profound themes from female empowerment to community. 

Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7HE (7pm; tickets £5.50 at

MUSLIM WOMEN: OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE | The Whitworth | Sunday 8th March

Hosted by Muslim arts festival Macfest, this unique event will see 18 Muslim share their personal stories, poetry, paintings, recipes, artefacts, music, performance, cultural hubs, music and even food. Love learning about other cultures? This is one for you.

The Whitworth, Grand Hall, Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER (1-4pm; free)  

2020 02 07 Macfest Iwd
Macfest’s IWD event will see 18 Muslim women share their culture

COTTONOPOLIS X DIABLESE RUM | Cottonopolis | Sunday 8th March

Acclaimed NQ restaurant Cottonopolis teams up with local rum company Diablese Rum for this day of female pop-ups and cocktails - soundtracked by The Beat Boutique collective. There’ll also be a creative workshops, including floristry with Bloom HQ and jewellery with Lucy Charlotte. 

Cottonopolis, 16 Newton St, Manchester M1 2AE (10am-8pm; free entry, workshops ticketed) 

FUNNY WOMEN SHOWCASE | Frog & Bucket | Sunday 8th March 

Championing female comedians since 2003, Funny Women’s IWD showcase include previous show winner Jayde Adams, Cumbrian writer and performer Jane Postlethwaite, upcoming Algerian-French comedian Ceyla AB and former professional trombonist Sarah Mann - with Liverpudlian comic Sian Davies as MC.

Frog & Bucket, 102 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LJ (7pm; tickets £12 at

2020 04 05 Sian Davies By Andy Hollingworth
Sian Davies is MC at Funny Women Andy Hollingworth

WORTH THE EXTRA SWEAT | Lululemon | Sunday 8th March

Lululemon’s IWD event will showcase four women who have ‘put in the extra sweat’ for gender quality: Ange from Tribal Alchemy, Ambassador's Rose and Lucy Sheridan (popularly known as The Comparison Coach) and Helen Barnett (formerly of the Metropolitan Police and S019 Armed Response, and proud recipient of the Queen's Commendation For Bravery). With compelling stories of surviving and thriving, it promises to be an inspirational panel.

Luluelmon, 7 Saint Ann's Square, Manchester M2 7EF (11.30am-2pm; free registration on 

FREE HAIRCUTS | RCNQ | Saturday 14th March

Rob Czlapka, is hosting a 12 hour marathon of free haircuts at his Northern Quarter salon RCNQ in aid of IWD. The international hair production director has produced shows across the globe - from Paris to Milan, Vivienne Westwood to Balenciaga - but his home is Manchester, where he also runs sub-brand Barber Below: a safe inclusive space that also features a Pay What U Can scheme which allows people to pay for haircuts with as little as 1p, a plant or even some baked goods. Forever thankful for the people who have supported him, he will be hosting free cuts for women in aid of IWD. Simply register, letting the salon know what IWD means to you, and they will be in touch with your appointment time.

RCNQ, 10 Hilton St, Manchester M1 1JF (9am-9pm; register here)  

Read more: Manchester's essential festival calendar: January to April 2020