International Women’s Day


At ArtsEd, International Women’s Day is not only a moment to celebrate this year’s theme #inspireinclusion, but also a reflection of our beginnings—a school founded by the forward-thinking Grace Cone and Olive Ripman in the early 20th century. These women trailblazers recognised the power of a combined academic and performing arts education to prepare young individuals for the world of theatre. This International Women’s Day, we are especially proud to recall their legacy, which set a precedent for gender equality and educational excellence—a story further elaborated in our detailed article on the women who built ArtsEd over the years

International Women’s Day: The Women who built ArtsEd – ArtsEd

Olive Ripman and Grace Cone at the back either side of a student from Upper Berkeley Street
Olive Ripman and Grace Cone at the back either side of a student from Upper Berkeley Street


This year, the KS5 assemblies, led by Amy Whiterod, Deputy Director of Sixth Form, focus on ‘Female role models in our lives.’ Her aim is twofold: to recognise the invaluable influence of women in our immediate circles and to shine a light on the societal impact of female leaders and pioneers. Through her presentation, Amy encourages a celebration of achievements and a critique of persistent gender inequalities, advocating for a world where inclusion is not just an ideal but an everyday reality.

In the same spirit, the library’s monthly display draws attention to women’s narratives through a selection of powerful literature. The shelves are adorned with works like ‘The Penelopiad’ by Margaret Atwood and ‘Her Naked Skin’ by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, each book inviting students to explore the complex and compelling stories of women across time and space.


Women's History Library Display including books:Acceptance by Amy Ng Ruined by Lynn Nottage The Penelopia The Play by Margaret Atwood The Welkin by Lucy Kirkwood The Ministry of Lesbian Affairs by Iman Qureshi I, Joan by Charlie Josephine Girls by Theresa Ikoko Imogen Says Nothing by Aditi Brennan Kapil Her Naked Skin by Rebecca Lenkiewicz A Pretty Shitty Love by Katherine Chandler Revolt She Said Revolt Again by Alice Birch Airswimming by Charlotte Jones Bullet Hole by Gloria Williams Medea by Liz Lochhead
This month’s library display ‘Women in History’


Within our Sixth Form, Year 13 Musical Theatre students are engaging with Carmel Dean’s seminal song cycle, ‘Well Behaved Women.’ This project, led by BTEC Musical Theatre Pathway Lead Giovanna Ryan, features an all-female group of performers who bring to life the stories of defiant and transformative women throughout history. From Boudicca to Harriet Tubman to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘We Rise’—the closing number—honours their rebellious spirit and contributions. You can view the moving performance of this piece below, showcasing the talent and dedication of our students to this powerful narrative.


We Rise – Performed by Y13 Musical Theatre students

As part of International Women’s Day, the Student’s Union invited the ArtsEd community to wear purple this Friday (today)—a colour that heralds strength, power, justice, and dignity. To extend our solidarity beyond our attire, the Student’s Union are encouraging everyone to consider a small donation to the Pachamama Project. Founded by Ella Lambert, sister of ArtsEd degree student Luke Lambert, this charity has made a profound impact by providing over 100,000 handmade, reusable sanitary pads to those in need globally, aiding in the fight against period poverty. Let’s wear purple with purpose and support Pachamama’s mission to uplift and empower.



Taking positive steps towards inclusivity, ArtsEd is introducing free period products in all provisions across ArtsEd, recognising and accommodating the needs of all who menstruate. This initiative is not just about providing for a biological need but is a step towards eliminating period poverty and a statement of our commitment to the health and dignity of our students, further information on this to be shared soon.

“At ArtsEd, we aspire to be a model institution for equality in all aspects: recognition, investment, opportunities, and rewards for everyone, irrespective of their gender. Together, let’s strive to create a world where every woman and girl can thrive, unhindered by discrimination or inequality. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us remember that gender equality isn’t just a goal; it’s a fundamental human right.”
– Acting Chair of Trustees, Farida Mannan

Reflecting on our illustrious beginnings and celebrate the progress made, we acknowledge that there is further work to be completed, but ArtsEd is proud to be part of this journey. Ensuring that inclusivity and gender equality are not just aspects of our legacy but are actively pursued in our present actions and future ambitions.

As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we full-heartedly stand behind the theme of inspiring inclusion. Let’s continue to celebrate our progress, challenge inequities, and support each other in a collective quest for a more inclusive world.

Join Our Open Events Designed For Underrepsented Performers


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