The North-east is set to celebrate women in leadership, women in politics and the centenary of (some) UK women winning the right to vote, with the launch of next week’s Rise Up Quines! festival.

The inaugural festival will take place at several Aberdeen city centre venues, from November 12-18, in partnership between over 20 organisations including Robert Gordon University (RGU), the University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen Women’s Alliance and Women’s History Scotland.

One of its headline events will be an ‘In conversation’ event with Caroline Criado Perez, an internationally renowned feminist activist and writer. This will take place at 6pm on Sunday, November 18 at the University of Aberdeen.

Caroline’s most recent campaign was for a sculpture of a woman to be put in Parliament Square and as a result, the statue of Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in April 2018.

She said: “This centenary year has been a dramatic one for women’s rights. More women than ever are finding their voices and standing together under the banner of #MeToo. But at the same time, the backlash around the world to shut us back up is intensifying.

“When there is so much to fight for and the battle can feel unwinnable, I do take strength from looking back to the women who fought for our right to vote at a time when women’s participation in democracy seemed laughable. They had so much less power than we do now — and yet they achieved the impossible. It took a lifetime, but they did it. I’m really looking forward to taking part in a festival that reminds us of that fight — that reminds of what we can achieve when we stand fast and united.”

Rise Up Quines! is in part inspired by the city’s strong suffragette heritage, with a series of rare letters between the Pankhursts and local suffragette and journalist Caroline Phillips held by Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums.

These letters will feature in the programme as part of a tour of the city’s Treasure Hub and there will be a number of talks by festival committee member, RGU’s Professor Sarah Pedersen, who is also author of The Scottish Suffragettes which includes rare insights into the lives and activism of suffragettes North of the Border.

Professor Pedersen, who will chair a number of events as part of the festival, said: “It was really exciting to announce our finalised programme last month and I look forward to seeing many of the committee’s ideas come to life next week. We, along with many of our partners from across Scotland and Aberdeen are so delighted that we can offer such a wide ranging and high-quality programme for our first year.”

Rise Up Quines! will see the first-ever North of Scotland screening of ‘The March of the Women’, brought to Aberdeen by Glasgow Women’s Library, who will also be bringing its Firebrand Women Exhibition, also seen for the first time in the North-east at the city’s Central library.

Festival audiences will also be treated to two more headline events, ‘Women in Leadership’ and ‘Women in Politics’ where leaders from the arts, business and industry, as well as female politicians from all the main political parties, will come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities for women in these roles now and in the future.

A series of music events, including workshops, masterclasses and live performances will add to the exciting schedule of the week-long festival.

There will also be an Activism Fair and a workshop led by the Scottish Trade Unions Council (STUC), both to be held on Wednesday, November 14 at North East Scotland College (NESCol).

Cindy Douglas, festival committee member, musician and Musicians’ Union activist said: “One of the motivations for the festival is to inspire individuals from across Aberdeen to embrace their passion for making a difference and become engaged in activism, whether that be in their own communities, education or their place of employment.

“Along with the film, literature, talks and music programme we are convinced that there is something in the festival programme for everyone.”

There is a total of 35 events across seven days, with a majority of these being free to attend. The festival has been supported by Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Government’s Centenary Fund.

Events can be booked via Eventbrite and more information on all the events can be found here.

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