International Women’s Day 2021: #ChooseToChallenge

A group of people, wearing sashes that read 'Votes for Women', gathered in a chapel. A large banner reading 'Deeds not Words' is held up at the back.
Reception in Brighton’s Chapel Royal in May 2019, after the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the work of the local Women’s Social and Political Union and the Suffragettes’ campaign to secure votes for women. Back row: Father Andrew  Woodward (vicar of St Mary’s Kemp Town), Cat Stead and the ‘Women of Note’ with their Banner ‘Deeds not Words’. Front row: singer Glenys Horton (seated), Elizabeth Dwiar (middle − organiser of the day), Kate Willoughby (the narrator of ‘Votes for Women Use your Vote’, second from right) and fellow actor Emilija Ellen (far right). Photo credit: Brian Horton

On International Womens Day Sussex Bylines celebrates and pays tribute to the generations of women who have fought for political representation, who have challenged prejudice, who have refused to remain invisible, and who have been proud to hold the banner of women’s rights high. We have featured a few of those women in previous articles: however diverse their backgrounds and different their campaigns, they share the determination and courage of their forbears in the suffragette movement. Through their leadership, their refusal to be invisible, they provide inspiring role models for future generations of women following in their footsteps. 

“We need women’s representation that reflects all women and girls in all their diversity and abilities, and across all cultural, social, economic and political situations. This is the only way we will get real societal change that incorporates women in decision-making as equals and benefits us all.”

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on International Womens Day 2021

Change takes courage: world looks to women role models

Juliet Lodge

True equality for women is a long way off, claims the World Economic Forum. Yet as International Women’s Day approaches, there are inspiring voices leading the way.

This Is Not Love: domestic abuse victims speak out

Ann Kramer

Behind the shocking rise in domestic abuse cases are the desperate voices of women themselves, captured in a moving new video from Hastings & St Leonards Women’s Voice.

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.” – Hannah Gadsby

What can we learn from Sanna Marin, prime minister of Finland?

Mo Kanjilal

Sanna Marin has led her country through the same crisis all world leaders have faced this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic. And while she does not get as many headlines as Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, her record is impressive.

Brighton and Hove community comes together to support domestic abuse charity Rise

Jo Saunders

Rise, a Brighton and Hove charity that has provided domestic abuse services since 1994, have recently lost their council contract. Jo Saunders tells the story of a community shocked and confused, rising to support Rise.

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half its citizens.” – Michelle Obama  

Maternity matters – Pregnant then Screwed

Rev Susie Courtault

As International Women’s Day approaches, Susie Courtault regrets the loss of EU anti-discrimination protection of women’s maternity rights as she discusses the recently lost Pregnant then Screwed court case and argues why they should have won.

Defenders of Democracy: Gina Miller

Ginny Smith

Meeting Gina Miller, you are struck by her energy, her determination, and her passion for social justice. Although her name first came to public notice at the time of the EU referendum, she has actually been a remarkably successful campaigner over a couple of decades.

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women.” – Maya Angelou 

Lessons from Georgia − Stacey Abrams shows us how to empower voters for a fair fight

Mo Kanjilal

After 10 years of tireless campaigning Stacey Abrams and her Fair Fight Action Team succeeded in flipping the state of Georgia to the Democrats for the first time in 20 years. Mo Kanjilal explores their work for voter empowerment and the lessons it holds for the UK.

Why it is essential to celebrate days like International Women’s Day

Charlotte Rawlinson

Charlotte Rawlinson calls on us to celebrate International Woman’s Day loudly and ensure future centuries hear women’s achievements. Queen Guinevere was denied such celebration but it is critical always to record and speak of women’s success.

“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama

Ladies who lunch or women who work?

Charlotte Rawlinson

Where does a female belong in the 21st century? Are we women who work or ladies who lunch? As a society, the only responsibility we all have is to educate ourselves, with a critical eye, always aware of who is telling the story and questioning why the story is being told.

My remarkable aunts

Vivienne Griffiths

As International Women’s Day approaches on 8 March, Vivienne Griffiths remembers two of her aunts: Florence Rourke and Kay Williams. Both were remarkable women, in very different ways, and both had a profound influence on Vivienne’s life.

“Let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard.” – Hillary Clinton

Kamala Harris: representation, reputation and imperfect role models

Mo Kanjilal

As Kamala Harris took the oath to become vice-president of the USA, she became the first woman and the first person of colour in this role. People are inspired by her, what she represents and the role model she is. But is she being held to different standards because she is the first?

From a dictator’s clutches to a ‘buddy’ helping those who flee

Ginny Foster

Having had to flee Chile after Pinochet’s 1973 military coup, Rossana Leal and her family settled in Scotland, where they were welcomed with open arms. Now based in Hastings, Rossana is managing a buddy project that provides practical and emotional support for migrants and refugees.

“One isn’t born courageous, one becomes it.” – Marjane Satrapi

Retired doctor turned community worker: Kim Shamash

Vivienne Griffiths

Kim Shamash told Vivienne Griffiths how the Brighton and Hove network sprang up just before the first lockdown. Within a week there were 42 areas with at least 3,000 people joining numerous area and street WhatsApp and Facebook groups to request or offer mutual support.

Defenders of Democracy: Amanda Robinson

Ginny Smith

The initiator of the LoveEU campaign (“a love letter to Europe”), a key figure in Women4Europe, the leader of the Release the Russia Report demonstrations in Westminster and one of the founders of, Amanda Robinson typifies the many passionate, committed and creative campaigners who battle to maintain the rule of law in the UK.