Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights

Open until Sun 1 Aug 2021

For more information

A fairer world for everyone: the fight for women’s rights is unfinished business.

From bodily autonomy and the right to education, to self-expression and protest, this new exhibition explores how feminist activism in the UK has its roots in the complex history of women’s rights. With social and racial inequalities thrown into sharp relief by recent world events, join the debate and add your voice to the many fighting for a fairer world.

Be inspired by those who paved the way. Cornelia Sorabji, the first woman to study law at Oxford University. Hope Powell, the first British woman to gain the highest European football coaching license. Meet Suffragettes such as Sophia Duleep Singh and challengers of recent years such as those behind the No More Page 3 campaign.

Explore the work of contemporary activist groups working online and offline today. Get to grips with the causes they fight for, from ending period poverty and supporting refugee women to securing abortion rights and increasing the number of women and girls involved in science.

Works from artists including Khadija Saye and Jo Spence explore how art gives voice to the fight for self-representation. Protest fashion and banners created by organisations such as direct-action group Sisters Uncut, human rights advocates Southall Black Sisters, and the Women’s Liberation Movement are among the many diverse items featured in the exhibition.

Recognising that inequality is experienced differently depending on race, gender identity, class and sexuality, this exhibition celebrates those who have struggled to overcome the barriers to living a fully-realised life.

Generously supported by Joanna and Graham Barker.

This exhibition includes some items relating to the body, sexual and domestic violence, abortion, sex work and enslavement. 

Khadija Saye: in this space we breathe

The Unfinished Business exhibition contains work by the Gambian-British artist Khadjia Saye. You can see more of her work in Khadija Saye: in this space we breathe, a display of nine powerfully evocative self-portraits that explore traditions of spirituality, and mark Saye’s concern with ‘how trauma is embodied in the black experience’. Saye and her mother tragically died in the Grenfell fire in 2017.

This display commemorates Saye’s enduring artistic legacy. 

Planning your visit

Please take care and respect everyone’s space as you move around the building. We’re still asking all visitors to wear a face covering while they’re here.

We’re reopening for everyone and are continuing to follow government guidance to keep everyone safe. Find out how we’re welcoming you to the Library safely.

Gallery opening times

Monday – Friday          09.30 – 18.00

Saturday                      09.30 – 17.00

Saturday and Sunday  11.00 – 17.00

If you can't attend, we'll reschedule your visit

In the event of future closures or if you need to cancel your visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will offer you alternative dates if available or a full refund.

Beyond the exhibition

Not in London or unable to attend in person? Explore the creativity and ingenuity of activists past and present. Our new podcast series, web space and digital events season give voice to the stories we couldn’t fit into the exhibition, and can be accessed wherever you are. Not only that, you can also visit one of the many accompanying displays in partner libraries across the UK, or join their online events.  


To reduce contact in our galleries, physical copies of large print guides won’t be available. You can still view a digital copy of the Unfinished Business large print guide that you can look at on a smartphone or tablet, or print out before your visit.

Data Protection and Track & Trace

In addition to collecting contact details as part of our normal booking process, we will also be recording the times that users enter and leave our premises in order to reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus.

In line with guidance issued by the Department for Health and Social Care, we will keep these details for 21 days. We will share your contact details with Test and Trace personnel, if asked, in the event of a fellow user or staff member testing positive for coronavirus.

Your data will be kept secure and handled in line with ethical standards and the Data Protection Act at every stage of the process – from its collection and storage by us to its transfer and use by NHS Test and Trace. NHS Test and Trace will handle all data according to the highest ethical and security standards and it will be used only for NHS care, management, evaluation and research.

The Library’s Privacy Policy can be found on our website.


Name: Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights
Where: PACCAR 1
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546

A sample of what you can see...

Joy Gregory on Black photography and setting up Autoportrait

Joy Gregory is a British artist, whose practice explores social and political issues with particular interest in the concept…

Photograph of the English Collective of Prostitutes occupation of Holy Church, Kings Cross

In 1982 members of the English Collective of Prostitutes occupied Holy Cross Church in King’s Cross for 12 days.…

Constance Markievicz: A biography

Portrait of Constance Markievicz, c.1896 published in her biography by Seán O'Faoláin in 1934.


First edition of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, 1928

Was Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, published in 1928, the first English-language trans novel?

The central…

Ellen Wilkinson's Plan for peace

Plan for Peace was a Labour Party election pamphlet written by Ellen Wilkinson (1891–1947). Published after…

Photograph of Diane Abbott in 1979

This is a photograph of Diane Abbott, taken in 1979.

Who is Diane Abbott?

Diane Abbott (b. 1953) is…