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Matchwomen's Festival 2018 - Celebrating 130 Years!

Saturday, June 30, 2018
Opening Hours: 
Bow Arts 183 Bow Road London E3 1SJ

This year we celebrate 130 years since the Bow Matchwomen's groundbreaking strike of 1888.

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. Their unexpected victory began a social movement from which the new union movement sprang, eventually leading to the founding of the Labour Party.

For our 6th 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!

We are thrilled this year to be just a stone's throw from the matchfactory, right where the strike began. This is the Bow Road the matchwomen knew, and promenaded, dressed to kill and arm in arm, on their days off. Here they began the strike which led to an unprecedented, supposedly impossible victory for poor, working class, largely migrant women.

Our festival will take place in the courtyard of Bow Arts, an organisation that supports art at the heart of the local community, and celebrates its history.



Already confirmed:

  • Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti
  • Writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen
  • Award-winning novelist Kate Thompson
  • Women's Rights' campaigner Aisha Ali-Khan
  • Black Activists against Cuts' Women's Officer Donna Guthrie
  • Sara Rowbotham and Cath Hayes, the 'Rochdale Whistleblowers' immortalised in 'Three Girls', on their fight for the truth.
  • The women tricked into relationships with undercover officers who formed 'Spy Cops Out of Lives'
  • Lissa Evans, BAFTA-winning Father Ted director and best-selling novelist who’s Their Finest Hour is now a major film, on writing comedy, & the suffragette heroine of her latest book.
  • NUT Vice-President Louise Regan on sexism in our schools
  • Founder of the eagerly anticipated East End Women's Museum Sarah Jackson
  • Karen Ingala Smith of Counting Dead Women (the femicide census)
  • Nina, who overcame an abusive relationship to become and advocate facilitator and fighter for other women escaping domestic violence.


Evening Bands

We're delighted to be joined by Steve White and the Protest Family, back for their 6th triumphant year at MatchFest, wonderful new band I,DORIS featuring Cassie Fox, and uber-talented singer songwriter Maddy Carty


Get your tickets