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London Irish Centre Charity
50-52 Camden Square, NW1 9XB London, United Kingdom
Join us for the 5th annual Matchwomen's Festival, this year bigger and louder at The London Irish Centre in Camden. Come and celebrate the women who, in 1888, *really* started the modern labour movement!
A full day and evening of speakers and entertainment, featuring some of the UK's best new women-led bands and musicians, curated by LOUD WOMEN club.
2pm Opening Welcome from Louise Raw:
2.05 ‘I Am a Woman’: poem by Star Joseph, Morpeth School 6th Form
2.10 Louise Raw: Rise Up Women! Fighting back through history. Also updates on the campaigns to save Union of Women Matchmakers’ Sarah Chapman’s grave, and memorialise the matchwomen with an accurate blue plaque.
2.20 The Girls of Mary and Joseph Language College on what the matchwomen mean to them today, and how their example has made them even more determined to fight racism and sexism
2.30 Heather Peacock- on battling her own traumatic brain injuries, life in a coma, and recovering to campaign for and save the NHS Unit that helped her
2.45pm Shami Chakrabarti and Dianne Abbott MP In Conversation: marking Diane Abbott’s 30 years in Parliament, after she became the UK’s first Black MP.
Shami and Diane have both faced unprecedented levels of abuse and smearing from the press, and what we later discovered was a deliberate ‘attack campaign’ devised by Lynton Crosby for the conservatives.
How do we fight this, and get more women involved in politics despite it?
3.35 Questions and break
4.05 Women on the Front Line
4.05pm Nina Malik on our sponsors the Freedom Programme, the ground breaking initiative which gives women in abusive relationship guide book to help them make sense of the experience, liberate themselves and re-build their self-esteem. Nina has herself escaped forced and abusive marriage to become an advocate for other women. She will be showing us a clip from the Freedom Programme which can be bought as a download to use as a resource
The book Living with the Dominator, written by the Programme’s founder, former Probation officer Pat Craven, is for sale today, and is a vital handbook for every girl and woman (although not every abusive relationship is male to female, most are) in understanding and avoiding abusive relationships.
4.25 Imani Robinson: Imani is an activist, critical thinker and organiser with UK Black Lives Matter.
She gave an acclaimed TedX talk last year on building a wide movement for justice and liberation, across many different communities, and how we can and should all be allies to one another’s struggles. youtu.be/H59azexNqtY
4.40 Claire Heuchan: an award winning blogger as 'Sister Outrider’, Claire is a Radical feminist and freelance writer. The central focus of her work is Black feminist theory and activism. She has contributed essays to the feminist anthology Nasty Women, A Room of Our Own, and facilitates workshops on subjects including feminism, blogging, and lesbian culture.
4.55 Kiri Tunks: Kiri is a long-time teacher in London, feminist, campaigner, trade union activist and Vice-President of the National Union of Teachers. She is speaking today on the increasing and alarming level of sexual harassment in schools, and what can be done to tackle it
5.20 Questions and short break
5.40 Stories of Life, Love and Protest:
5.40 Rachel Holmes: the activist, journalist and best-selling author of the recent 'Eleanor Marx' biography on the subject of her forthcoming book, Sylvia Pankhurst
5.55 Sarah Wise, award-winning author of The Italian Boy, The Blackest Streets, and Inconvenient People. Sarah will speak on the battles against ‘slum landlords’ in Victorian London
6.15 Mary Chamberlain of the London Recruits: the sensational story of the young women who undertook clandestine missions for the ANC during the bleakest years of the apartheid regime; now subjects of a book and film.
6.25 Barbara Jackson, Secretary of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, on the ongoing fight to get a ‘Hillsborough-style’ investigation into the ‘Battle of Orgreave’.
6.35 questions and wrap up
— Evening session (times are approximate)
7-7.15 – funny, feminist, heartfelt poetry from Hannah Chutzpah, who wants you to know she has been described as ‘fine’ by three therapists…
7.30-8 — Steve White and the Protest Family – London’s favourite sing-along folk-punk heroes
8.15-8.45 – Gaptooth- wry, feminist electro-pop reflections on love and politics from Hannah Lucy
9 — 9.30 — The Menstrual Cramps – a much needed Riot Grrrl-reboot from the ‘British Pussy Riot’!
9.45-10.15 Thunder on the Left – gnarly riffs from leftie London rockers
10.30-11 — Ms Mohammed – ‘Powerful, brilliant, goddess-like’ (BBC) Her song ‘Alibi’ is our festival’s protest anthem
This year we have a beautiful venue in the McNamara Suite at the London Irish Centre. Camden is on the doorstep, and there is a luxurious bar area where you can relax and meet friends between the action.
CHILDREN (UNDER 16) GET FREE ADMITTANCE.
You have the choice of adding a lunch deal to your ticket, for £6.60 per box.
It's been a hell of a year.
If we ever thought politics was nothing to do with us, we've been shown just how much it effects lives outside Westminster and the White House.
So what do we do now?
We can take our cue from women throughout history, who faced hard times by fighting back together.
The Bow Matchwomen's groundbreaking strike of 1888, which we celebrate every year, was friendship and sisterhood in action. With no union, no money and no job security, they took action to defend one sacked girl, and ended up facing down one of the country's most powerful employers, and founding the modern union movement.
Not bad for very poor Eastenders who had been denied formal reducation, and many of whom were teenage or younger, and from migrant backgrounds.
Their secret was an ancient understanding, reaching far beyond the matchfactory into the rural past and politics of Britan and Ireland. They knew they were incredibly powerful when they stood together.
For our 5th annual festival we will take inspiration from each other, and from speakers of diverse gifts who have one thing in common: they never, ever give up!
ALL WELCOME (including children!)