International Women’s Day: 8 March 2020
Women’s Voice celebrates International Women’s Day every year. 2020 was no exception. On 8 March more than 100 local women came together to to mark this important date. This year our them was Women and the Environment, looking at how climate change is already impacting on women and what future implications are for women if it is not checked. Cllr Maya Evans gave a fascinating talk, which included the devastating impacts for women in the Global South as well as looking at what is going on in Hastings. She took questions and then women got together in small groups to look at what action we can take locally. Ideas ranged from cycle paths, growing vegetables, ensuring green housing and many others. Local singer Carol Prior and the Extinction Rebellion choir entertained us and everyone enjoyed vegan food. Who would have known that two weeks later we would be in lockdown?
Other past projects
Over the years, Women’s Voice has hosted, often in partnership with other local organisations, a number of different projects, all aimed at enabling local women to meet, share experiences, and gain greater visibility. These projects have included:
Finding our voices: Reflecting the title of the project, women of various ages and ethnicity came together to cook, share stories, get fit and gain confidence in public speaking. The project involved working in partnership with Eggtooth, Active Hastings, Home Ground Kitchen and the Hastings and Rother Refugee Buddy Project. More than 100 women attended different aspects of the project, which ended with a glorious Arabian feast and presentations of music, poetry and spoken word by young women.
Celebrating votes for women: In 2018 we celebrated the 100th anniversary of (some) British women winning the vote for the first time, after more than 40 years of hard struggle. More than 300 local women of all ages were involved in the project, which included a huge procession along Hastings seafront made up of women dressed as suffragists and suffragettes, living statues of local suffrage activists and a 100-women choir which sang songs of suffrage in St Mary’s in the Castle. Throughout the project, which involved various art and singing workshops, women explored the struggles involved in gaining the vote and discussed the relevance and significance of women’s involvement in politics today. A subsequent exhibition of women’s artwork asked what gains women have made over the last 100 years and what still remains to be done.
Exploring women’s lives during the First World War: In 2014 Women’s Voice partnered with Hastings Museum and Art Gallery to create a project designed to explore the reality of women’s lives during the First World War. Participants researched into their family backgrounds, uncovered some fascinating stories, which they expressed in prose pieces, poetry and artworks. The project ended with an exhibition of the women’s work at the Museum and a booklet including all the written work. Women also produced a huge banner, which remained on display at the Museum for some weeks.
Representing women: women explored Hastings Museum to discover how women are represented. This was followed by a series of creative workshops through which women told their stories using words, photographs, pictures, ceramics and textiles. The aim was to create a Pop-Up Museum, which was displayed at Hastings Museum and elsewhere in town.
In 2014 Women’s Voice provided a number of different activities with the aim of building relationships between disadvantaged and socially isolated women. The project began with a debate/discussion day at the University of Brighton, at the Hastings Campus. Women explored the sexualisation of young women within the media and the over exposure to sexual imagery. Speakers included Beliel Beraki (Object) and Sarah Owen, both of whom are female community leaders and experts in gender and equality. Local women joined in the discussion exploring the impact of peer pressure and sexualisation and trivialisation of women through the media.
Women Go Global: Hastings and St Leonards are highly diverse, and Women’s Voice is committed to inclusion and exploration of diversity. Over the years, we have run a number of film sessions, highlighting women’s global issues by showing movies from regions where women’s rights are impaired by political or traditional establishments. We have also run various global cooking sessions, where women of different ethnicities and cultures and present and share foods of different cultures.