International Women’s Day, held on 8 March each year, celebrates how far women have come in society, politics, and economics, and recognises the ongoing need for gender equality.

This year’s theme, Choose to Challenge, aims to call out gender bias and inequality. In East Sussex we are committed to working toward gender parity but we know there is still work to do. Equality is not just a women’s issue, it’s a business issue and it’s going to take everyone to think and be inclusive – all the time, everywhere.

There are lots of exciting and informative events being run in East Sussex to celebrate International Women’s Day. Check out the list below and let’s all get involved and do what we can to truly make a positive difference for women.

Harpies, Harridans and Harlots

“Well behaved women seldom make history” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

East Sussex Libraries have curated a special list for International Women’s Day with over 60 recommended titles. From suffragette stories to empowering reads such as Women and Power by Mary Beard and Holly Bourne’s What’s a Girl Gotta Do. All available to download on the Libby app.

East Sussex women in science

  • Monday 8 March, 10am
    University of Sussex School of Life Sciences and the School of Engineering and Informatics
    are co-hosting a free online screening of the film Picture a Scientist. This feature-length documentary film features a number of researchers and scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable and open to all. Book your free ticket.
  • Wednesday 10 March, 12pm
    Sussex and Brighton Universities
    are jointly hosting a free talk by award-winning science journalist and author Angela Saini, named by Prospect magazine as one of the world’s top 50 thinkers. Book your free ticket.
  • What do you imagine when you’re asked what a scientist looks like? Are you picturing lab coats, goggles and conical flasks? How about the person? Do they look like Albert Einstein? If that’s who you pictured – you aren’t alone. Take a look at our Smashing Stereotypes’ interviews with women in our workforce who are behind the science.

Keeping women safe in our community

  • Tuesday 9 March, 2pm
    Fresh Visions Thrive team are delivering a ‘Let’s Talk About Domestic Abuse’ workshop for International Women’s Day. Book your free ticket.
  • Wednesday 10 March, 6pm
    Survivors Network
    have a live Q&A with the Director and star of short film The Rape Clause, nominated for several awards in The People’s Film Festival.
  • East Sussex Youth Cabinet will be officially launching their domestic abuse campaign and promoting International Women’s Day on their Instagram page.
  • Change Grow Live Domestic Abuse Service will be sharing key messaging and information on International Women’s Day on their Facebook page.

Archive of the Month – images of women in local press

Nearly 20 years ago, archivists at East Sussex Record Office accepted a collection of glass-plate negatives from two local newspapers. The negatives cover the years 1927-1976 and show the changing roles of women in British society, particularly during the Second World War. They also record the objectification of women in stereotyped and domestic roles, which was common practice in all media at the time.

The Keep will be sharing some highlights (and perhaps some lowlights) from the collection on social media during the coming month. Watch out for them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Local inspirational women

  • Dr. Elena Mucci, Consultant Geriatrician at Conquest and Spire Hospitals, has inspired many people to stay happy and healthy in older age. She delivers presentations to large audiences across the county with her common-sense advice on ageing well. Learn more about Dr Mucci and read her advice for yourself. You can also follow her on Instagram.
  • Ruth Rose, founder of Seaford Mermaids, passion for swimming has rubbed off on the local community. She has been demonstrating to an ever-growing number of locals the health and fitness benefits of an early morning swim, improving wellbeing for all. Read more about the Seaford Mermaids.
  • Julia Wells is the chair of Hope-G, the voice of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) older people in East Sussex. Julia was born in the West Indies and after seeing an urgent appeal for nurses in the UK, she settled here. Her nursing career continued with the NHS for 46 years, but her passion for helping her community didn’t end when she retired. Read her story here.
  • A female run, volunteer led charity in Eastbourne, Wayfinder Woman, help women find better lives by building their self-confidence and skill sets. Find out more about what they do, and join their upcoming events on their website.
  • This Girl Can is a celebration of active women everywhere who are doing their thing, no matter how they do it or how sweaty they get. We have two This Girl Can ambassadors in the county and you can read more about their journeys here.
  • Active Sussex needs your help to inspire more women and girls to move more, and help break down the barriers that prevent so many from being physically active. Find out how to get involved.

For inspiration further afield, BBC 100 Women names 100 influential women around the world every year.

There’s no place for complacency. According to the World Economic Forum, sadly none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes. There’s urgent work to do – and we can all play a part.