International Women’s Day: Unlocking the Hidden Histories

This March, the National Football Museum is celebrating International Women’s Day and the centenary of women’s suffrage with a comprehensive programme of events and activities, including the world’s largest conference on women’s football.

Upfront & Onside: The Women’s Football Conference, staged as part of the museum’s Hidden Histories of Women’s Football project and to tie in with Manchester’s #WonderWomen festival, will bring together influential academics and journalists from across the globe to consider watershed moments in the development of the women’s game.

The talks will assess the impact and growth of the game on these shores and overseas, tackling issues around sexuality, gender roles, religion and culture.

The two day conference, funded by the Arts Council, kicks off at the National Football Museum on Thursday 8 March, and closes with a fascinating insight into the museum’s comprehensive Hidden Histories project.

“The conference is suitable for anyone with an interest in the history of football, women’s sport, and ideas around gender, diversity and inclusion,” said Professor Jean Williams, academic lead on the Hidden Histories of Women’s Football project. “Working with 25,000 items from the women’s game has enabled us to review and reinterpret the last 150 years of women’s football. We welcome people to join the conversation!”

Tickets for the conference can be ordered online via Eventbrite, with early bird booking discounts available until 31 January:

The museum is also working with local artists Catherine Long and Helen Mather to create a textile-based artwork inspired by stories and objects from the women’s game. The project will see community groups incorporating football memories and memorabilia into the final piece, which will be displayed throughout the Upfront & Onside conference. Find out how you can contribute via their Facebook group.

Posters from the museum’s Early Career Researcher competition will also be presented and displayed throughout the conference on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 March. Find out more about the competition and how to enter by clicking here.

School groups are set to be inspired by two talks from UEFA B coach and mentor Annie Zaidi, who will be sharing her incredible football journey on Tuesday 6 March, while a free one-hour talk on Unlocking the Hidden History of Women’s Football will be held at the museum on Monday 19 March, allowing visitors the opportunity to handle treasures from the Chris Unger collection.

“The Museum is committed to representing the women’s game and making it more accessible to all,” said Belinda Monkhouse, Hidden Histories project coordinator at the National Football Museum. “The conference will mark the start of our programme of activities to engage the public with our collection and tell the stories of women involved in the game.”

Download the Upfront & Onside: The Women’s Football Conference itinerary here.