International Women’s Day 2020

Today is a celebration of ALL women, across the world. Curator Jody East reflects on the ‘Pioneering Women of Sussex‘ blog series so far and the women whose achievements may never be told.

Today we are not publishing a singular blog post about an individual pioneering woman of Sussex. It seemed impossible to highlight one particular individual on today’s International Women’s Day. So far, our Pioneering Women of Sussex blog series has celebrated women who have pushed for women’s rights to vote, for women to play sport, for women to receive an education and qualifications, to change the way we all see the world around us. And these are just women who have a connection with Sussex!

Brighton Women Centre female volunteers sitting up the stair case of the DOme. They are all wearing matching white t-shirts.
Brighton Women’s Centre volunteers gather before the start of the International Women’s Day event 2020 at Brighton Museum and Brighton Dome
a group of people dancing in the art gallery, they are led by a woman at the front wearing 1920s black flapper dress and head band.
Lindyhop workshop at Brighton Museum, International Women’s Day 2020

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. It began in the early 1900s on various dates but since 1913 it has been held on on 8 March every year. It was recognised by the United Nations in 1975.

Brighton Museum joins forces with Brighton Dome & Festival and Brighton Women’s Centre every year around International Women’s Day to hold a huge free event, full of workshops, talks and performances to highlight and talk openly and empathetically about issues concerning women in the city and beyond, and also to share experiences and support, to learn new skills and to have fun. Yesterday saw over 2000 people visit Brighton Museum and Brighton Dome.

Community’s tapestry created by the Network of International Women, displayed on International Women’s Day 2020

So far we have published 16 out of 100 blogs in our series. There are so many more stories to come, from the first British woman to swim the English Channel, the first woman to conduct the BBC Proms, the first woman MP. These women were not seeking fame for their actions, but personal achievement, or were led by passion for their subject, or by a desire to break the status quo and change lives for future generations.

One of my favourite quotes from an upcoming blog by the first female mountain guide, Gwen Moffat, is ‘Proud to be a pioneer? Apart from my being the first woman guide I wasn’t that different from my peers. Women mountaineers went way back. I was less a pioneer, and more another link in a chain.’ I love that Gwen sees her achievements in the context of all the women who came before and after her. There are many pioneering women whose stories and lives we are just unaware of and who may never be celebrated in public but have lit the way for us to unknowingly follow. Today’s blog is for all of them.

5 women sitting on the ledge in the art gallery, with 5 large portaits behind them. They are all smiling at the camera.
First Women visit the exhibition on International Women’s Day 2020. From left, Megan Swann (magician), Jill Pay (was Sergeant in Arms at the House of Commons), Anita Corbin (photographer), Alison de Burgh (stage fight director), Katherine Ker (Royal Navy)
stage fighting workshop held on the dome stage. 8 pairs of girls are lined up facing each other. They are learning how to pretend box each other. The pair nearest the camera are mid punch. The stage director is wearing a green jumper and brown trousers and is walking alongside the pairs directing their actions safely.
Stage fighting workshop with first woman stage fight director Alison de Burgh, part of International Women’s Day 2020

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