MANCHESTER: What More Can The Law Do For Women? - A Festival Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017

Date: Saturday 11 March 2017

Time: 11am - 4pm

Location: Pall Mall Court, 61-67 King Street, Manchester M2 4PD

Venue: Doughty Street Chambers, Manchester


Fee: Free

Following on from the success of last year’s inaugural events, Doughty Street Chambers is pleased to host “What More Can the Law Do For Women?”, our second annual festival in celebration of International Women’s Day.  The festival invites lawyers, judges, NGOs and others from civil society to pool their shared experience and knowledge to try and find constructive, practical ways in which the law can be used to support women and address gender imbalance.  It will be held over two days, with a session running Manchester on Saturday 11 March.  (There will also be a session in London on Saturday 4th March, the details of which can be found by clicking here.)


We will also be tweeting from the conference and you can join the conversation by using the hashtag #DoughtyStWomen.


We hope you can join us for what we are sure will be stimulating discussions.



Saturday 11 March – 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Doughty Street Chambers, Pall Mall Court, 61-67 King Street, Manchester M2 4PD


Doughty Street Chambers hosts a day of talks looking at how women are impacted by the law and what the law can do to support and further women’s rights and interests.  We hope the day will identify areas for future law reform, and will inspire and inform delegates on campaigns we can mount to ensure the law better supports women. Tea, coffee and lunch will be provided.  You are welcome to stay all day, or just attend the morning or afternoon session.


Before the event we will be sending you a short survey to canvass your views on how women are impacted by the law, and results from that will feed in to our discussions on the day.  We will also ask you for thoughts or particular issues you would like to see addressed by our speakers.  During the day itself, each session is intended to be a discussion, led by our panellists, but very much inviting your views from the floor.  We will be capturing this information to be distilled in to a report which we will circulate to delegates after the event as a record of the day and to identify practical action points to take forward.  


From 10:30 am - Registration


11:00 am - Welcome  

Henrietta Hill QC (Doughty Street Chambers)


11:15 am - Violence Against Women and Girls

Chair: Kim Harrison (Slater and Gordon)

Zimran Samuel (Doughty Street Chambers)

Dr Catherine White (St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre)


2017 marks the 25th anniversary of UN CEDAW's General Recommendation 19 on violence against women.  Since that time, international standards on violence against women and girls have markedly improved. Despite this, violence against women and girls, in its many manifestations, remains prevalent both domestically and internationally. The UK has more to do in this area, particularly by ratifying and implementing the Istanbul Convention.  This expert panel considers some of the means through which we combat VAWG and highlights the on-going challenges faced by lawyers, advocates and those on the ground to protect, prevent, respect and fulfil women's rights to live without violence. 


12:00 pm - Women and Prisons

Chair: Jeannie Mackie (Doughty Street Chambers)

Katie Fraser (Women in Prison)

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC (Doughty Street Chambers)

Harriet Wistrich (Birnberg Peirce and Centre for Women’s Justice) 


In March 2007 Baroness Corston’s review of vulnerable women in the criminal justice system was published, calling for a radically different, woman-centred approach, and scrapping large prisons which act as social dustbins for vulnerable women. A decade on, little has changed.  Indeed, many aspects of the system have worsened – the closure of HMP Holloway will result in London women being placed further away from their children and support networks.  Transgender women are placed in male prisons, and there have been three apparently self-inflicted deaths of trans prisoners in the past year.  This expert panel will consider the urgent need for change and what can and should be done. 


 1pm - Lunch


1.30pm - Performance on consent by Take Back Theatre (with actor Julie Hesmondhalgh and colleagues)


1:40 pm - Reproductive Rights

Chair: Kate Beattie (Doughty Street Chambers)

Professor Fiona de Londras (Birmingham Law School)

Cara Sanquest (London Irish Abortion Rights Campaign)

Gemma Hobcraft (Doughty Street Chambers)


Our expert panel will consider questions of autonomy and reproductive rights.  2017 is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking Abortion Act 1967, and we will discuss its importance, the campaign to decriminalise abortion, and the need for change in Northern Ireland.  We will also consider important developments in fertility and reproductive rights, including three parent birth certificates, access to IVF services and surrogacy.


2:40 pm - Women’s Voices: Getting Heard

Chair: Angela Patrick (Doughty Street Chambers)

Julie Hesmondhalgh (Actor)

Sarah Judge (Manchester City Councillor)

Harriet Johnson (Doughty Street Chambers)

Judith Moritz (North of England Correspondent, BBC News)


In 2016, attempts to silence women moved from Twitter to the floor of the House of Representatives.  As women take to the streets in their masses to loudly call out misogyny, it’s time to change the conversation.  We bring together some brilliant, vocal women – heroes of campaigns, the legal world and broadcasting - to speak about their experiences and to start a conversation about how best to ensure women are heard with authority.


3:40 pm - Final comments and Close

Henrietta Hill QC will round up some of the themes which arise during the conference, and will invite delegates to make their pledges as to how they plan to use the law to better support the women whose interests they represent. 



To reserve a place at the Manchester event please RSVP here


Details of the London programme which ran on Saturday 4 March can be found by clicking here.

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