Women’s Words Manchester

We, the steering committee have been working away since September 2015 to birth this now, fully funded project. From initial idea to final successful bid to Arts Council England has been a long, up and down road. Throughout our journey we’ve become friends and sisters, really in touch and in accord with each other.

Bringing together the talents of the Pankhurst Trust, Manchester City Council, WordPlay Community Arts, Soroptimist International Manchester and various artists and writers we’ve moved from concept to design and are so delighted to launch this project to the city that is our home and our muse.

We invite all women over the age of 16 to share in our delight and join us in building this collection of women’s stories.

We are also really excited to let everyone in Manchester, or really, anyone who has any connection to Manchester to cheer us on, and nudge their friends, partners, family and neighbours to get involved and tell us their life-stories. it is a hard thing sometimes to brave lack of writing experience, cultural programming and self-doubt and say “My story matters”, even when you know in your deepest heart that it does.

So, if you are a man, or a young person under the age of 16 who is savvy with technology, talk to the women in your life. Let’s all come together to build this archive and really capture what it is like for women living, working and growing in Manchester today.

Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes changed so much for so many by going out and working relentlessly, sacrificing their health, even their lives to achieve what they wanted to see in the world. We all, both men and women, young and old, are the beneficiaries of their vision, will and determination. This is something to celebrate. Manchester is the city that was their birth place. Us Mancunians are a strong, proud and resilient bunch, and our responses to this year’s terror attack more than proved it.

So, let’s celebrate again. Let’s build a brilliantly diverse, comprehensive and inclusive archive that truly captures a moment in time. Let’s preserve and protect the stories of our women, to be collected in time for the 2018 centenary of the vote for women.

The project launches today, Thursday the 24th of August 2017. We will be accepting submissions until midnight on Friday the 24th of November 2017.

Stories in prose, poems, memories, thoughts, all are welcome. And if you’ve got any issues in writing, we’ve got three workshops, free and open to all women, to help you refine and work on your writing. As long as what you send us is your real story in your own words, that’s all we want. You can even have someone write it down for you if you aren’t able to yourself for whatever reason.

Gail Heath, Chief Executive of The Pankhurst Trust (Incorporating Manchester Women’s Aid), said,

“The women of Manchester have always had a compelling and thought-provoking story to tell.  Through this project we are bridging the worlds of the those who fought to be heard over 100 years ago and the lives of women today who we want to use their voices to tell and share their stories.

“In doing so we’ll be reaching out to all women in all situations; actively encouraging those experiencing domestic violence, abuse, homelessness and asylum, arguably the voiceless in 21st century Britain.  This an ongoing story, and we hope to capture a contemporary reflection of women’s lives in current times.”

Women have often been pushed to the fringes of history. As more and more violence and hatred seem to be emerging in today’s turbulent world climate it is really important that we take the time to reflect on who we are and what we’ve achieved as women. It is our diversity that is our strength, our unity that is our magnificence.

Councillor Sarah Judge, Lead Member for Women at Manchester City Council, said:

“The Women’s Words project will support and encourage Manchester women to develop essential skills and the confidence to share their experiences of life in our city.

“Historically, women’s writing has not always had the attention it deserved.  This new archive will help us to preserve, celebrate and learn from the fascinating stories that Manchester’s amazing women have to tell.”

Our project will culminate with two public events, an exhibition and a gala event on the 5th of February at Manchester’s Central Library.