This year we celebrate the centenary of (some) women getting the right to vote. In response to the 1918 Representation of the People Act, the mothers of our movement started a programme of mass political education for newly-enfranchised women, including an annual Gala that ran until 1970s and attracted speakers such as Barbara Castle, Nye Bevan and Clement Attlee. To mark the anniversary, the Women’s Gala is returning to its home of Wharton Park as a free, fun day for all to enjoy on Saturday 30th June, 10.30am-16.00pm.
Like the Women’s Gala events of yesteryear, we will have high-profile female speakers including
Chi Onwurah MP,
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP,
Liz Twist MP,
Helen Goodman MP,
Sharon Hodgson MP and
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP.
We have live music from Ladies of Midnight Blue, an all-woman brass/afrobeat fusion duo with a focus on social justice, and the Mums in Durham Choir, who found fame on BBC2’s The Choir: Gareth’s Best in Britain.
Expect a day of family fun including mini-golf, mini-cars and football games provided by the Foundation of Light. The Brownies will teach kids how to make solidarity bracelets and mini-Suffragette banners, and families are invited to attend a banner-blessing with feminist vicars in St Cuthbert’s Church after the speeches. You can learn more about the history of the Gala and Labour women’s activism in the North East through our heritage trail and quiz.
Street food vendors from across the North East will provide a range of refreshment from gluten-free, vegan crepes to pizza, Armenian lavash flatbread and chips. There will be a fully-licensed bar selling local tipples including Durham Gin, and Hill Island Brewery have even brewed a special beer for the day.
Women’s organisations and not-for-profits, including Trade Unions, will have the opportunity to organise, recruit and fundraise. There will also be space for voter registration, and we’re teaming up with County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to help the NHS celebrate its 70th birthday.
The Women’s Gala is generously supported by UNISON, the Labour Party NEC development fund, Durham County Council, and women across the North East.