Opinion: ‘How Peterborough’s Gladys helped pave the way for women’s rights’

Peterborough Museum looks at the city’s heritage and some of the exciting things that are happening in Peterborough...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 6th March 2022, 12:15 pm
Gladys Benstead

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year in many countries around the world.

It is a global day which recognises the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

Its origins stretch back to the early 1900s

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In Peterborough, we will be celebrating throughout March with talks and networking and cultural events. It’s a fantastic opportunity to come together and celebrate women’s achievements past and present.

At Peterborough Museum on March 5 from 10am-4pm (last entry 3.30pm), we will be celebrating with an Intercultural Community Fair and Bazaar with stalls, food, music and workshops inspired by different communities.

We will also be looking back at women who were important movers and shakers of their time from many different communities, making great strides in science, culture and social change.

There are many examples in Peterborough, Gladys Benstead, nee Palmer, was the first woman clerk to work on the railways outside of London.

She also negotiated wages for the National Union of Railwaymen.

She was heavily involved in the Railway Women’s Guild and eventually became a councillor.

She was Mayor of Peterborough in 1955 and Gladys’s husband, John Benstead, became general secretary of the NUR in the early 1940s.

There are other International Women’s Day events in the city:

- PARCA: March 11, 5pm-7pm a family event with music, food and dancing at Unity Hall.

- Peterborough Cathedral, March 8, 9.30am-1pm.

This event is organised by the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce and takes up the #BreakTheBias theme of the 2022 International Women’s Day.

The programme will include:

An elite exhibition of female-led businesses and/or services for women.

An exciting speed networking experience, during which you’ll get to meet all event delegates.

Plus, there will be more opportunities to network further throughout the day.

There will also be thought provoking and motivational talks and presentations by female leaders from the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Business Community.