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How to celebrate International Women's Day in Beijing

Women are awesome, let's celebrate them in Beijing

March 8 is International Women's Day, so what better excuse to celebrate the continued fight for women's rights and gender equality? Here's our pick of the week's events that honour the awesomeness of women in the city – bra burning optional.

Discuss feminism

lijia zhang 2

The world is full of bangin' women, and luckily for us a fair few of them are in Beijing. On Thursday 8 March, The Bookworm is hosting an interactive panel discussion titled 'Women of the World' that's set to discuss pay inequality and fair gender representation in political and corporate spheres. Speakers include Joanna Chiu (correspondent for Agence France-Presse) and writer Dan Bao.

Then on Saturday 10 March, head back to The Bookworm for a discussion about sex and how it remains a taboo topic in China, with women writers in particular risking backlash from conservative authorities and readers. Moderated by Robert Foyle Hunwick, author Zhang Lijia (pictured) and Evangaline Zhang are guest speakers. That same evening, Nüvoices – a new women writers collective – also celebrates its launch where there'll be a raffle draw plus a prize for the best costumes of iconic women, modern or historical.

Soak up some women's history

soong ching

Soong Ching-Ling was the wife of Sun Yat-sen, the first president of the Republic of China, and was a political powerhouse in her own right long after his death. Go see her actual house for yourself, which is just by the pretty Houhai Lake and has tranquil courtyards perfect for a spot of feminist contemplation.

On Thursday 8 March, Newman Tours is also hosting a one-off tour about some of Beijing's most iconic women; from revolutionary female writers to vengeful assassins, to the world's most powerful pirate all the way to the last Empress of China.

Get active with women's sports

roller derby

Roller derby isn't just for women, but it certainly attracts women of the badass kind, and what better way to let out your rage with the patriarchy than by some good old fashioned contact sports? Though they've taken a well-deserved break over the winter, the Beijing Roller Derby group meets every Tuesday and Sunday and will be back at it from March 18 onwards – time to get your skates on.

Catch a film

hannah arendt

The Francophone Film Festival has always been particularly adept at showcasing the diversity of the French-speaking world, with last year’s selection running the gamut from the Middle East and Africa to Vietnam. This year's festival is no different and features a curated selection of 16 feature-length and short French-language films from francophone states around the world.

Centred around a different theme each year, this year's festival is a celebration of women, with a programme that features an array of intriguing female characters confronting very different realities around the world. Check out our guide for a full list of screening times.

Down a cocktail (or two)

cocktails

If instead you'd prefer to share a few drinks with your best squad, then Mosto, Moka Bros and Arrow Factory Brewing are all hosting boozy events on Thursday 8 March in celebration of Women's Day. Head to Mosto for a complimentary glass of sparkling wine (for women only, sorry lads), or sip on cocktails at Moka Bros where 20 percent of the proceeds will go towards raising funds for this year's China Women's Film Festival. At Arrow Factory Brewing, all women will receive a 50 percent discount on any Arrow Factory beer as well as a buy one, get one free deal on Zeffer Red apple cider.

Be mentored by trailblazing women leaders

mentor

If you feel like you're in dire need of advice from women who've seen it all and done it all, Beijing Mentor Walks is hosting its next session this Saturday 10 March. A series held in collaboration with AmCham, AustCham, Britcham, the Australian Embassy in Beijing, VIVA and the Beijing Women's Network, this program brings together established and emerging women leaders from a diverse range of fields in a relaxed, informal setting to discuss professional and personal successes, challenges and aspirations. This Sunday's session takes place at the Australian Embassy.

Rock out with awesome women musos

band

Finally, for a dose of girl power (beyond that epic Spice Girls playlist), head to School Bar on Thursday 8 March for a special Women's Day gig featuring performances from all-girl punk band Free Sex Shop, riotous female foursome Quick Shot, plus Finger Family and Candy Monster (entry's free for all women and 80RMB for men). Then on Saturday, catch brilliant Dutch DJ Esther Duijn headline Lantern's Saturday night slot and bliss out with her style of refined and understated deep techno.

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