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Girl Power!

Events around Sussex and nearby for international women's day and the centenary of the first votes for women.

It’s International Women’s Day this week (hurrah for us!) and this year marks the centenary of the Representation of the People act that gave the first wave of women in the UK the right to vote. To celebrate, here’s a round-up of events around Sussex and nearby that tie in with the theme.

WSPU office 1913

Talks and feasting

Italian small plates chain Polpo (a bit of a fave with chez Muddy) is running a series of inspiring charity events as part of a month-long celebration of women, with the first at its Brighton branch. On 18 March diners will hear a talk from Kimberley Thomas of charity Refuge while tucking into a special menu of Venezian favourites. Refuge supports women and children escaping violence and abuse. Tickets are £35. There are also later events in London. Female diners visiting Polpo on March 8 or 11 will meanwhile by given traditional mimosa flowers for Women’s Day.  There will also be inspirational talks and workshops to mark Women’s Day at the Shoreham Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea on Saturday 10 March.

Recent graffiti in Brighton

Major London exhibition

I remember getting quite emotional when I saw the suffragette artefacts in the Museum of London for the first time. Now, for the 100th anniversary of the first votes for women, the museum has just this week launched a tie-in series of events and displays. There are powerful new films and historical artefacts like Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike medal and an ‘anti suffragette alphabet’ that will make you seethe. A jewellery masterclass with Tatty Divine has sold out (boo) but you can still join a discussion (24 March) and a walk (25 March) or a bus tour (5 May and 22 July.)

Tales of the anti suffragettes

The side we hear less about – the anti suffragette movement is the subject of a new exhibition – Female Suffrage, The Other Side – at Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, starting 10 March and on till early Sept. It tells how Lord Curzon lead the campaign against allowing women the vote.

What's On in Sussex in Feb, What's On in Sussex, Things to Do n Sussex, what's on in Sussex for Half Term

Banners and badges

Drop in to Worthing Museum, which has artefacts relating to the Suffragette movement among its huge collection of vintage clothing and social history,

The Museum of Transology

Gender identity is being explored in an ongoing exhibition at Brighton Museum. Local trans residents have donated personal artefacts that express something about themselves or their transition. It’s believed to be the largest collection representing trans people in the UK and it will be on display at the museum throughout 2018. You may also want to book ahead for an evening of ‘laughs, discussion, insight and costume changes’ by the always fascinating gender-bending artist and social commentator Grayson Perry, coming up at Brighton Dome this November and likely to sell out well in advance.

Women of the World Festival, Southbank Centre, London, 7 – 11 Mar

The Southbank’s 8th WOW Women of the World festival is, as you’d expect, thought-provoking, eclectic and celebratory in turns. Loads of events to choose from including a panel on equality in the creative industries, a portrait project supporting those against genital mutilation, drag king comedy from Joan, and Yap Yap Yap, a hilariously irreverent and teary recreation of women’s speeches throughout history. It’s on March 7 – 11.

Funny women

Bridget Christie. Photo by Colin Hutton

A couple of feminist-slanted comedians I really rate are coming up in Sussex. Bridget Christie will be in town for Brighton Festival on 18 May with her What Now? tour. (I nearly injured myself laughing at her previous A Book For Her show). Sara Pascoe meanwhile brought her Lads, Lads, Lads tour to Brighton this week but if you missed her, fear not she’s back in Sussex at The Capitol, Horsham on Thurs 18 Oct promising ‘the thinking person’s stag do’.

Fashion and equality

From corsets to bra-burning, fashion has been closely linked to women’s equality for well over 100 years. At Out of the Dolls House – 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage and Fashion at Farnham Maltings in Surrey discover how fashions have changed during the last 100 years, as the role of women in society has been radically altered. The exhibition’s on till until Sat 2 Jun.

History help

Museum researchers in Norfolk want to find out more about a Suffragette who spent time living in Sussex and may have surviving relatives still in the area, particularly Brighton, Uckfield and Framfield.

Caprina Fahey fought for women’s rights as a member of the Women’s Social & Political Union between 1908 and 1914. She spent two spells in jail and later had a career as a midwife. However, details about her time in Sussex are sketchy, though Caprina and her husband were known to have lived a while at Flat 5A Lewes Crescent, Brighton. If you can help, contact, 01603 493655.

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