OLDHAM is celebrating International Women’s Day today (Thursday) by holding several free events in the town centre.

The occasion is dedicated to raising awareness about gender parity and celebrating the achievements of women.

The line up will begin with a debated titled "Women may have got the vote in 1918, but how far have we really come?" at Oldham Library, at 11am.

It features excerpts from a new comedy by local playwright, Joyce Branagh called "Women in Parliament".

Oldham Theatre Workshop stages a special performance in Parliament Square, at 12.30pm, as they invite onlookers to stand with Suffragette Annie Kenney and watch her transform from mill worker to inspirational champion for women’s rights.

Activities conclude back at Oldham Library at 7pm with an evening of storytelling and expertise-sharing with a panel of some of the UK’s most inspirational women in business.

Live-streamed from the British Library, the event will feature businesswoman and former Dragon's Den dragon Hilary Devey CBE, Dessi Bell, founder of active wear and health food company Zaggora, and Precious founder and editor, Foluke Akinlose MBE.

The day's events chiefly relate to women’s suffrage and, as the UK recently celebrated the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave all men over the age of 21 and some women over the age of 30 the right to vote, it fits with one of the themes of the day – gender parity.

Councillor Hannah Roberts, Elected Member Champion for Suffrage to Citizenship Programme, said: “As a way of commemorating and celebrating the centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act we are co-ordinating a series of events alongside other organisations.

“There are strong links with the women’s suffrage movement here in Oldham and it’s important that we remember this, as it is part of the heritage of our town.

“International Women’s Day is a great opportunity when planning commemorative suffrage events and we hope residents will come along in support of gender equality and maybe to learn more about Oldham’s suffrage pioneers.”

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council Leader, added: “To celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage we appointed Hannah Roberts to oversee a programme of events and it’s great to see so many activities taking place on International Women’s Day.

“It’s really important that we remember what women endured to get the vote, but also how far there is still to go to achieve true equality.”

Further events are being held throughout the year across the borough to commemorate women’s suffrage.

For more information go to www.oldham-council.co.uk/ocevents/.