H&F marks Women’s History Month 2023 in borough-wide celebrations

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has marked Women’s History Month 2023 with a full programme of events and activities.

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Dame Sheila Hancock (second from right) at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith. Also pictured: H&F Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan (left), H&F Mayor Cllr Emma Apthorp (right) and Cllr Rebecca Harvey, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion & Community Safety (second from the left)

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has marked Women’s History Month with a full programme of events and activities.

Throughout March, residents and businesses came together to spotlight, celebrate and pay homage to the many pioneering women who have helped shape our borough as we know it today.

Some women who lived and worked in H&F have been commemorated in our Women’s History Month quiz for their trailblazing contributions to science, politics, arts and beyond.

Others were highlighted through a plethora of community events, including exhibitions, panel discussions and workshops designed to raise awareness of gender inequalities, women’s rights and hidden voices throughout history.

Missed our celebrations? We’re revisiting some of our highlights below.

Fanny Eaton memorial unveiling

On the first weekend of the month, H&F Council unveiled a new memorial for Fanny Eaton – Britain’s first Black supermodel and muse to the Pre-Raphaelite artists.

A permanent headstone now marks her place of rest in Fulham’s Margravine Cemetery.

It follows the unveiling of her blue plaque at 2a Bassein Park Road, Shepherds Bush, last November.

At the unveiling, Cllr Sharon Holder, H&F Cabinet Member for the Public Realm, said: “March 4th marks the 99th anniversary of Fanny Eaton’s death and she lived to the great age of 88 in the early 20th century.

“Her blue heritage plaque and memorial are only two of many sites along our Black heritage and history trails. They celebrate significant people that have lived and worked in the borough, and who may have previously been overlooked.

“They’re part of our drive to diversify H&F’s public realm.”

Visit our heritage trails here.

View the photos from the Fanny Eaton memorial unveiling on our Flickr account.

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Cllr Sharon Holder (right) unveils the Fanny Eaton memorial in Margravine cemetery

“Through her eyes” art exhibition

Meanwhile, our month-long exhibition at the Lyric theatre invited residents to explore ‘womanhood’ through the lens of an all-female artist line-up.

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Nicola Hepworth at the exhibition launch event

Open to visitors free of charge, the displays covered a wide range of topics including race, heritage, menopause and women's bodies.

“I want to tell a story through each piece of art,” said Jacqui Cooke, 60, at the launch event on 9 March. “Like what we contribute to society as people of West African descent.”

The notion was echoed by Usha Rajagopal, whose work “focused on Indian women doing things independently”, and former H&F pupil Nicola Hepworth, who took inspiration from her great aunt – the first hunger striker of the suffragette movement.

“Women need to be portrayed in a number of different ways,” said Sonia Thomas. “This exhibition gives me an opportunity to show my work but also to support other women artists.”

View the photos from the art exhibition on our Flickr account.

Two women talking in front of a wall of art

Sonia Thomas (left) in conversation with H&F Mayor Cllr Emma Apthorp (right)

An evening with Sheila Hancock

An evening at Hammersmith’s Irish Cultural Centre saw dozens of residents meet and laugh along with renowned actor, writer, public speaker Dame Sheila Hancock.

A Hammersmith local for many years, she has left her mark across film, theatre and radio over the course of her 70-year long career.

“I love living in Hammersmith,” she said. “I love the mixture we’ve got – our beautiful river, good cafes, funny high streets and colourful Shepherds Bush – I just love this part of London, I really do.”

Speaking about her latest book "Old Rage”, she spoke to Cllr Emma Apthorp, H&F’s youngest-ever Mayor: “What I find very lovely about young people is that they're driven by causes, like Black Lives Matter and Me Too. By what’s good for the people and the country. That's a wonderful way to come to decisions.”

View the Sheila Hancock Q&A video on YouTube.

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Dame Sheila Hancock (left) in conversation with H&F Mayor Cllr Emma Apthorp (right)

“Sophia” film screening and Q&A

A private screening of the theatre-film hybrid “Sophia” introduced residents to Indian Sikh princess, Sophia Duleep Singh – a determined suffragette who fought for women’s rights between 1876 and 1948.

Like so many women of colour in history, her story remained untold for decades.

The film screening was followed by a Q&A with writer and producer of the film, Beverly Andrews. “People talk about women getting voting rights in 1918, but they didn’t – it was only some women that did, wealthy women that had property,” Beverly explained.

“A friend of mine gave me the Anita Anand biography about Sophia. I read it and I thought, oh my God, why didn't I know about this woman before? That started me on my journey.”

View the post-film Q&A on our YouTube channel.

Highlighting hidden voices in Sands End

An evening of interactive art and local food at Sands End Arts & Community Centre concluded H&F’s month-long celebrations.

The event brought together residents and women’s safety experts to spotlight the hidden voices of women and girls affected by modern slavery, sexual exploitation and forced marriage.

Speakers on the night included violence against women and girls experts from H&F’s partner organisations, who spoke about the support available to survivors in the borough.

In her opening remarks, H&F Mayor Cllr Emma Apthorp said: “Issues encompassed by Modern Slavery and Exploitation can be greatly stigmatised and as a result hidden from society.

She added: "I’m so pleased that we’re taking this evening to discuss the topic and listen to those working on the front lines. At Hammersmith & Fulham, we recognise that the right solutions will only be found by listening to those affected.”

View the photos from the interactive art and local food evening on our Flickr account.

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An interactive mural invited guests to contribute to the art on display

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