TODAY is International Women's Day and as part of our support for Southampton's City of Culture 2025 bid, we have asked three women for their thoughts on the city's rich and diverse cultural landscape.

Zoie Golding, founder and owner of ZoieLogic Dance Theatre, is Southampton born and bred.

Daily Echo: Zoie Golding teaching.

She said: “From my perspective as a local girl, the city is a hidden gem and for people like me who like to tell stories through dance theatre, that’s very exciting. It’s about cracking it open and celebrating and shining a light on our communities.

“It is really important to celebrate the heritage of the city but it is also about looking forward and staying relevant.”

Zoie has been in dance theatre for 20 years and has been spearheading many projects throughout lockdown, including performances in care home car parks, The Grid Experience at the Guildhall and online training for youngsters.

“We haven’t stopped,” she added.

Our Version Media is a Southampton-based community interest company rooted in the belief everyone can tell their stories by showcasing their lives and communities. Also born and raised in Southampton, Our Version Media’s founder, Veronica Gordon, is a broadcast journalist and news producer with more than ten years’ experience in TV, radio and print.

Daily Echo: Veronica Gordon. Photo by Habibur Rahman.

She said: “I have been volunteering in Southampton for 15 years and I get to see the beautiful side of it. The bid is a wonderful opportunity for the city to blossom, it has so many treasures. I think it’s a real chance to bring more people in, show them just what we have to offer and to help build that identity for Southampton.

“I really believe that culture in its broadest sense is about is about the people of the city and their communities. This is how Southampton thrives.”

Dahlia Jamil, advocate of BAME (Black Asian and minority ethnic) arts in Southampton is an honorary Doctor of Arts at Solent University

Daily Echo: Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Dahlia Jamil

She has been actively involved in access to education and learning for disadvantaged groups over the last 30 years.

Her achievements include setting up the first BAME women’s groups in Southampton. Dahlia is passionate about the arts and sat on the board of the Southampton Cultural Development Trust, is an organiser of the Worker’s Education Association and is chair of Art Asia.

She said: “Southampton has a vibrant mix of cultures and I am deeply passionate about raising the profile of the diversity of our city. We have lots of diversity but we need more inclusion. Arts and culture are critical to our city’s development not only from an individual perspective but also in attracting visitors as well as creating a welcoming place to live.

“The bid is so important to us. I don’t think people appreciate Southampton enough. The bid is crucial in holding things together and we all need some hope at the moment, especially in arts and culture.”

Dahlia believes the city is incredibly vibrant but too many people “work in their little silos. I hope the bid process will bring us all together more”.