International Women’s Day 2018 – #PressforProgress

Posted By on March 8, 2018

Happy International Women’s Day!

This year’s theme is #PressforProgress and the International Women’s Day website explains that “Individually, we’re one drop but together we’re an ocean” and asks us to “Commit to a “gender parity mindset” via progressive action. Let’s all collaborate to accelerate gender parity, so our collective action powers equality worldwide.” You can scroll down this post and use the widget to choose an action, one area that you’re going to commit to focus on “to press for progress for gender parity in your own sphere of influence.”. We can all do something to #pressforprogress, however small.

Today, I’ve chosen to celebrate women’s achievements. I want to give a shout-out to female Tudor historians and to my fellow female writers – you rock! Your hard work and dedication is so appreciated, as is the help you give your readers and fans. Thank you!

I also want to celebrate the lives of the Tudor women I spend time with on a daily basis, albeit from a distance of 400-500 years. Their lives mattered – from the Tudor housewife getting up before dawn to start her chores to the queen consorts who used their influence to help others or to have an impact on policy, from the midwife or wise woman to the radical religious reformer – they achieved so much. The stories of the women I encounter on my journey into history truly inspire me – their faith, their courage, their determination, their commitment to bring about change, their willingness to die for their cause or to protect others… their stories humble me. Thank you to them for making history so darn interesting and for pressing for progress back them. I salute them!

I can’t pick just one woman from history and say that she is the one that inspires me the most. Obviously, Anne Boleyn is the figure that fascinates me the most, and I do draw inspiration from her, but then there’s her daughter, there are martyrs and radicals like Anne Askew, there are women who put their lives on the line to harbour priests, there are women who spoke out against injustice and evil… There are too many to list and I’d feel bad about missing some out.

And then there are women today who are quietly doing their bit to make the world a better place – mothers, teachers, lawyers, politicians, activists, religious leaders, doctors, nurses… We all have an impact and we can all #pressforprogress. Happy International Women’s Day!

The International Women’s Day website can be found at

18 thoughts on “International Women’s Day 2018 – #PressforProgress”

  1. Michael Wright says:

    The sad thing is a vast majority of the women a few centuries ago because of their upbringing and the times in which they lived would not have supported this. Glad times are changing.

  2. Christine says:

    So many women have made their mark in history in what has mostly been a mans world, their political achievements and in other professions too have been somewhat undermined by the obstacles put in their path by a male dominated society, nowadays of course women can be seen in the forefront of power such as Margaret Thatcher who became Britains first female prime minister, imagine the shock and scandal had she tried to pursue her political dream of entering parliament in the Victorian era, Nancy Astor the first woman to sit in parliament and who is famous for her arguments with Winston Churchill, there was Florence Nightingale born into a wealthy family yet was determined to travel to the Crimea and amongst all the misery and bloodshed tended to the sick and injured, she became the pioneer of modern nursing and her statue stands well deserved in London, a beautiful woman who decided that the role of the perfect Victorian miss was not for her, no marriage and the rearing of babies for her, no stifling dinner parties and soirées – she wanted to prove her worth in society where until then, nurses were a lazy slovenly lot over fond of the bottle and with no proper training, Madame Curie, who became the first woman to be awarded the noble peace prize by discovering radium and the only person to win it twice, the only woman professor in the university of Paris, these were the women who wanted to help the poor in society and the ill, in the literary field Jane Austen who had her works published along with her fellow novelists the Bronte sisters back in regency England, a field usually dominated by men, the historians too must mention them, Mary Anne Everett Green and Agnes Strickland, there are so many women who have achieved so much, as Claire says there is the silent woman who patiently feeds the homeless in the soup kitchens today, the women whose names we do not know, there were also in history those women who were determined to achieve the ultimate dream by possessing power and riches, Anne Boleyn for example who by her sheer feminine charisma and strength of will rose from a queens lady in waiting to queen herself, there was her namesake Anne Askew who preached the new learning which her enemies called heresy openly and loud, the threat of torture did not quell her proud spirit as she was sure of her faith and trust in God, under extreme torture she never wavered and refused to implicate the queen and others, she was burnt for her beliefs which I feel was shameful but that was the law, even Lady Jane Grey refused to convert to Catholicism even though she knew it would save her life, for a young girl to have such pressure put on her and still keep to her faith was remarkable, Margaret Beaufort whose young life was not easy and had to endure a dreadful birth at only thirteen schemed and plotted for her only son to become king, yet she saw her dream come true and died content, Isabella of France nicknamed the she wolf who actually raised an army and invaded England and deposed the King, these women were only human yet very brave as women particularly in the medieval period were seen as mere chattels of their husbands, it was a view that persisted upto the Tudor age and beyond, it has not been easy for women and it was not so very long ago that if women were abused and battered by their husbands they had no where to go to seek for help, there were no women’s refuge and divorce was frowned upon, she had to shut up and endure, in the 18th and 19th centuries if women dared to harangue their unfaithful husbands or if they took a lover, the husband was quite within his rights to send her to an asylum, he may be a brute and a drunk but no matter if she transgressed from her wedding vows then he could have her committed, there were the suffragettes who wanted the law changed so women could have the vote, and rightly so, why should we not! They chained themselves to buildings and were force fed in prison, one woman killed herself by throwing herself in front of the kings horse, after that dreadful incident in which many were overcome with the horror of it including the King, parliament decided to consider passing a bill which would give women the right to have a say in who would govern their country, which was as much theirs as it was men’s, there are so many women out there nameless women who contribute to society today like as mentioned the ones who help in the soup kitchens and in the various charities throughout Britain and the world, those who left their countries to help the victims of Ebola and risked catching it themselves, those who work tirelessly without thought of personal gain but just to help others and so I’d just to say this is your day as well.

  3. Banditqueen says:

    I have been at an Event today at one of our old female education institutions, which now promotes and provides education for adult women. They also provide free nursery services and many free community events. There were several stalls and crafts from women’s and family based groups around the region and health information and other social inclusion groups. There was a debating corner and volunteers provided refreshments, dressed as Suffragettes and promoting female suffrage. In the afternoon they had an interactive play with women from the drama and English as a second language group, mostly refugees learning English and who had heart felt stories to share. The play was called My Story, My Journey and each lady picked up a pair of shoes and walked with them, signifying a journey, then told what journey and life meant to them. Then the actresses who came from all around the world but are now citizens in England used props to illustrate their story and their achievements. They then sat as if on a train, reading different articles from around the world about women, then they interacted as community. They then again used a suitcase to illustrate their journey and what it meant to them. They finished with an African song of love and freedom and a chant that we all joined in with translations called Beautiful Mama. It was a really fun afternoon and it was interesting to see how much some of the women had personally overcome to achieve their sense of self and beauty. One young woman had escaped war and famine in Pakistan and travelled for six months by bus, train, lorry, sea, then several trains, finally to reach safety with some family in Britain. Now she had been studying at Blackburn House and putting on this wonderful play.

    There are so many countries around the world that women especially still struggle, as do men, to have a voice. There are also wonderful examples of women taking the lead in their communities to bring about change and to fight for health, education, the vote, the right to decide on their own future, to end forced marriage and poverty, to speak out when women are systematically raped over and over and to stop this from being ignored by human rights laws, who stand up for women who are mistreated and to bring a better future. Just as we can celebrate many women from history, Susan B Anthony, The Pankursts, Milicent Fawcett, Elizabeth Anderson, Josephine Butler, Anne Boleyn, Katherine of Aragon, Teresa of Avila, Julianne of Norwich, Ella Fitzgerald, Constance Markevich, Katherine Parr, Jeanne D’Albert, Joan of Arce, Marie Curie, Phoolan Devi and a thousand others, we can hope with all those today who struggle but try to overcome and celebrate female achievements and lives no matter what or where they are in all of their wonderful diversity.

    1. Christine says:

      It sounds nice Bq!

    1. Claire says:

      It always used to annoy me that people knew Florence Nightingale but not Mary Seacole, thankfully programmes like Horrible Histories and school curriculums have brought her to children’s attention. An amazing woman.

    2. Christine says:

      Hi Anyanka, yes of course Mary Seacole as well, another wonderful woman but she doesn’t appear to be as famous as Florence Nightingale even though she was actively involved in the Crimean war to, the Crimean war is forever linked to Nightingale and her legend of the lady with the lamp, history appears to have eclipsed Seacole quite possibly because she was of mixed race, but she does deserve a mention to also Edith Cavell, an extrodinarily brave woman who lost her life in a brutal way may their names live on.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        We have the Mary Seacole Centre here so she is much better known. She was actually better liked than Florence Nightingale because she let the soldiers have tobacco and smoked herself. Florence did eclipse her, yes and became more famous, so thanks for raising her, Anyanka, as she is a,fantastic example of a mixed race nurse, overlooked in favour of the white, middle class, Lady With The Lamp. Of course all those women who travelled to the Crimean Wars deserve medals for their work. They had to be patient as well as disciplined, especially as all they were allowed to do for weeks was scrub floors and make bandages.

        Edith Cavell, the nurse who helped so many allied soldiers and lost her life as a result, as well as so many more from the resistance and our own, Violette Szabo, whose husband was killed, and who had a French mum and a young daughter, but was sent to find the resistance behind German lines and was killed with two companions as the allies closed in to free them. Carve Her Name With Pride, the film which remembered Odette as she was also called, belongs to them all, also to Noor Inayat Khan, another war heroine who spied for Britain and was shot in a camp, received the George Cross. I only came across her last year when looking for a book on Odette. She was an Indian Princess who married and lived in England and again had a small family. She is also overlooked perhaps. When you think, there are so many women, from so many countries who history has forgotten, we need more International Women’s Days just so we can recall them all and honour their memory.

  4. Michael Wright says:

    I just heard on the news about an Iranian women sentenced to 2yrs in prison for removing her head covering. She’s eligible for parole after 3 months. The prosecutor thinks her sentence should have been more severe.

    Think celebrating the achievements of women is wonderful but more needs to be done for the basic human rights of women in different parts of the world.

    1. Claire says:

      I think the fourth option might be a good one to pick for that. Here on the Anne Boleyn Files, it was more appropriate to pick the fifth one as it was something that I could do, but, yes, I agree with you, more needs to be done and there are some wonderful charities, organisations, Human Rights lawyers etc. working hard to try and change things.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        The female MP who was part of the first Afghanistan government for years and served two terms in office has been on television yesterday. She was saying how difficult things for her became after the first few months and how it was clear she was seen as a token. When she raised female issues and human rights she was accused of corruption and treated badly. She fought back before she was taken more seriously in her second term. However, eventually she has felt safer leaving and working as a human rights advocate in Geneva. She can change the laws with international pressure and awareness, better than in Afghanistan, where girls still have to be escorted to school by armed soldiers, otherwise they are attacked for their human rights to education and a future. I would like to mention the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize Winner, who went to the U.N to address them and campaigns for the rights of children in the Eastern countries, Laureate Malala Yousafzai, whose story was made into a documentary film in 2015. There are so many judges and advocates, but such a young girl doing this is truly inspiring.

  5. Banditqueen says:

    Claire, I have a question that has been bugging me about the portraits, who is the lady to the far right of Elizabeth and Katherine Parr? I have seen this Lady a few times but don’t recognise her. If you can help, it will be great.



    1. Claire says:

      Hi LynMarie,
      I’m afraid we don’t know. Holbein sketched her but her identity is not known.

    2. Christine says:

      I think iv seen that picture in Lofts biography of Anne Boleyn, the picture is described as a lady in court dress that’s all.

  6. Banditqueen says:

    Many thanks, Claire and Christine, she is on a lot of books, but I don’t think I have seen a name. I think she does look like she is modelling the clothing, so perhaps she was a professional model. I thought she looked like Margaret Paston at first, but of course she is wearing sixteenth century dress and is of the style of Holbein or his school. Never mind, I will go on a fishing expedition, although Steve reckons she is not a typical Holbein, but if he sketched her, he must have met her. I wonder if she was one of those life studies artists like to do when they are preparing for a new commission, looking at the latest fashion for a female sitter, perhaps, getting ideas, her dress is very lovely, but much less formal, so maybe he was looking around, saw a lady he liked and asked her to show him her dress which he drew. She also looks very happy, so perhaps she is enjoying the attention and he is flattering her. I am intrigued.

    1. Christine says:

      Yes she could have been just chosen by Holbein out of a crowd of people and she was no doubt delighted and flattered that the great artist had noticed her, hence her cheerful expression.

      1. Banditqueen says:

        Yes, I have done quite a search and she doesn’t have a name. He seems to have drawn quite a few random people, several unidentified ladies and family drawings as well as fashion. Her hood must have been quite fashionable as it is worn by Lady Ratcliffe, Princess Mary as a young lady, Katherine Willoughby and a number of the young women he drew or painted. I came across a lovely sketch of a woman with a baby and two others making a great fuss. Very appropriate for today.

  7. Michael Wright says:

    What strikes me is how modern the sketch looks despite the clothing being 16th century.

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