International Women's Day takes place around the world on Saturday 8 March, but events are being held around the country in the run up to the big day. Check with your local council or Arts Centre for activities near you.


Southampton gets the ball rolling today with a two week festival for the fairer sex. Now in its 11th year, the city's themed programme is unrivalled and in 1997 there are more than 100 activities to choose from. Highlights include Throw Your Cares Away for the Day (tomorrow), an opportunity for women to chew over the challenge of stress. Participants will learn how to cope with the multi-skilling strain of being a 1990s superwoman, without resorting, as their pre-feminist, pre-Oprah foremothers did, to the chemical relief of "Mothers little helpers" such as valium.

Also of interest to anyone who has ever sighed over a dirty sports bra or dwelled lovingly over a scrap of Janet Reger lingerie is Bloomers and Bustiers (Mon 3 Mar). Stripping away the decades, this illustrated talk reveals the social significance of underwear.

Elsewhere, there's something for everyone with martial arts to bring out the Tank Girl in you and Latin dance workshops to put it back where it belongs, so you can glide elegantly around the dance floor, a model of discreet, womanly charm.

And for proto-post-feminists (or whatever the new breed of sugar and spice girls are called today), there's Young Women of Today (today) serving up fun and information for girls of 12-16.

Call the City Council for a free programme (01703-832 655/ 832 876)


The London borough of Camden hosts its first ever festival from next Friday. Ten days of high-profile and grass-roots events celebrate women's achievements in every arena - from media and politics to sport and health. If you feel abandoned on the hard shoulder of the information superhighway, why not get Internet training at Cafe Cyberia? (12, 15 Mar 7-9pm. booking essential 0171-681 4200) Alternatively,

sit back and enjoy the work of black, immigrant and Third World film directors. (Crossroads Women's Centre, 0171-482 2496).

A highlight of the festival promises to be Mavis Goes Shopping, a visual arts initiative showcasing femme artists in everyday spaces, including some of the supermarkets and hairdressers along Camden High Street (from Fri 7 Mar).


This week sees Battersea Arts Centre holding an evening of poetry, storytelling and music for International Women's Night (Fri 7 Mar). Artists include poets Dorothea Smartt and Jillian Tipene (0171-223 2223).


In Huddersfield, Sian Edwards conducts the Halle Orchestra in a bill which includes Forest, a contemporary work by the great Judith Weir. (Town Hall Sat 8 Mar 7.30pm 01484 223200)