Rochdale Women’s Voices

Women of all generations from Rochdale explore the place of women and girls in the world

The project is back and fired up to go with new partners Hopwood Hall College and Petrus – through their Social Prescribing initiative – joining older Asian women from KYP and young women from M6 Theatre.

During 2020 – 2021, CAN and its partners KYP and M6 Theatre created two unique women-only spaces as creative places to empower different generations of women.

The project will culminate in a celebration of the power of Rochdale’s women to mark International Women’s Day 2023.

Multi-disciplinary artist Rahela Khan joined the project in the summer of 2022. Rahela uses visual art and photography with the group at KYP to explore identity and the issues that matter to them. In the past few months, women have experimented with different art forms, from botanical photography, which inspired flower arranging, to colouring for mindfulness and developing drawing skills.

So far, the KYP group has visited Rochdale’s Ebor Studios. For some group members, this was their first time visiting a museum/art gallery. The group saw a site-specific exhibition in a former textile mill which resonated with many in the group. They met and talked to a visual artist with a shared South Asian heritage reflecting how important it was to meet an artist who looks like them.

The women of KYP are now creating a large-scale mosaic artwork using tiles kindly donated by Topps Tiles.

Rahela says:

“All too often, the women at KYP are misrepresented and stereotyped as marginalised. The project challenges negative misrepresentation.”

“Rochdale’s Women’s Voices celebrates their lived experience and contribution to Rochdale past and present. It celebrates them as mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers and their place in the Rochdale’s textile industry.”

“The project is an important space for older Asian women to be seen and heard and visible in arts and culture.”

The workshops are essential for women to take a break from their busy lives and to socialise with friends.

“My husband had three strokes when I started to come to the group. The session was giving me strength and good feeling so I could go back and continue looking after my husband and children. Even my children notice the change of much happier I am.”

 With a laugh, one woman said:

“I really like the sessions. It makes me feel so happy and it’s my time to have it for me.”

Meanwhile, younger women from M6 Theatre, the charity Petrus and Rochdale’s Hopwood Hall College, are reflecting on women’s leadership. The group made a short film and participated in photography sessions exploring women’s lack of power.

M6 Theatre’s young women talked about how the project has grown their awareness about the issues facing women in the UK and internationally:

“It really opened my eyes because before this, I never really thought about the problems you face being a woman. Like I knew of them, but I never really looked at the statistics so that they could be helped.”

“It was shocking to see how much women are pushed down, and women are not given opportunities as men and how much men get paid more than women.”

CAN’s Creative ProducerMahoobeh Rajabi, said:

“The M6 group made a powerful project where we’re reminded of how we should value the voices and different experiences of young people.”

“I wanted the group to have their voices heard and hear their thoughts on women’s empowerment and leadership.  Their work vocalised how far we have to go in the UK and globally to achieve genuine justice and equality for women.”

In partnership with

The project is supported by Lankelly Chase and by Action Together.


CAN is supported by