All welcome to enjoy International Women's Week

Dorothea Benoly

First female mayor of Bethnal Green Dorothea Benoly

Long before the term “girl power” was coined and England elected its first female Prime Minister in 1979, East End women were blazing a trail for equality fighting for voting rights and better working conditions to benefit generations to come.

In 1888 over 1,000 women and girls employed at the Bryant & May match factory in Bow successfully went on strike to improve their working conditions. Find out about this fascinating event by delving into the records held at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives.

Tower Hamlets Council is staging a wide programme of events to mark International Women’s Week (March 4-11) and Women’s History Month (March 1-31).

International Women's Day (IWD) has been observed, in various guises and countries around the world, for more than 100 years. It is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. On 8 March 1914 there was a march from Bow to Trafalgar Square in support of women's suffrage.

A celebration of the first female  mayor of Bethnal Green is taking place at  the history library where speakers will talk about the life and career of Dorothea Benoly, who served from 1933-1934.

The history library holds personal diaries of her time in office, as well as her scrapbook of photos, invitations, and newspaper clippings, which you will have a chance to browse first-hand.

Women in Public Life is one of the themes for this year recognising that out of the 650 members of Parliament only 191 are women and in Tower Hamlets out of 46 councillors only 12 are women.

The council will be supporting a programme of free talks and events which will explore women in public life.

Cllr Asma Begum, cabinet member for Culture said:

“I am excited to see such an interesting programme of events to mark Women’s History Month and International Women’s Week. This year there are a range of events to celebrate this important date in the calendar.”

 Cllr Shiria Khatun, cabinet member for Community Safety added:

“This is a great event in Tower Hamlets, I have attended many events in the recent week organised by some very inspirational local ladies from Tower Hamlets & listened to their journey of progression, some left me speechless. Hats off to those ladies in achieving their goals in life.”

Other events include the council’s sports team who have put together an array of events to get women active. Activities on offer will include; water aerobics, aqua jogging, badminton, table tennis plus pampering sessions.

The council is also supporting community groups organise events to support IWW. All residents can attend but check before attending as some events are women only.  To view the full programme of events visit or call 020 7364 2433.

Posted on Monday 13th March 2017