INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Amnesty launches the 'Suffragette Spirit' Map of Britain featuring TEN South Yorkshire women

Freda Brayshaw and Jenny Hockey
Freda Brayshaw and Jenny Hockey

Sheffield tree protesters, charity workers, women's rights campaigners and ladies who have battled for the the rights of others despite tackling terrible tragedies of their own have been recognised as part of a national campaign.

Today - International Women's Day - Amnesty International UK launches its Suffragette Spirit Map of Britain to celebrate the incredible work being carried out by women in their communities 100 years on from them first winning the vote.

Nikki Bond

Nikki Bond

And we are well represented in the People's Republic of South Yorkshire - ten of the women featured are from our county.

For the past month Amnesty has worked with newspaper groups all over the UK - including The Star, Sheffield Telegraph and Doncaster Free Press parent company Johnston Press - to scour the country for women who embody the continuing suffragette spirit - today’s female human rights defenders.

The huge number of nominations and the enormous range of issues being tackled by these often unsung heroes is unprecedented. Women around the country are setting up support groups to aid refugees, tackling the issues surrounding domestic abuse through theatre, setting up initiatives to tackle bullying in schools, establishing charities to tackle period and clothing poverty, standing up for pensioners’ rights, campaigning for better facilities for disabled people.

Some of the successful nominees are working in these kinds of roles in South Yorkshire where they are doing their best to improve life for others.

Gloria Stewart

Gloria Stewart

They include: Sheffield Council Green Party councillor and tree protester Alison Teal; tree protesters Freda Brayshaw and Jenny Hockey who were arrested during the felling of trees in Rustlings Road; Hannah Peck, who set up the charity Baby Basics which provides nappies, clothing and supplies for vulnerable newborns; Women's rights campaigner Nikki Bond, who is the Sheffield Central Labour Party Women's Officer and Maureen Greaves, community worker who works tirelessly to provide a foodbank and support for those in poverty despite the murder of her husband Alan Greaves.

Also included are: Sheffield's 'Mrs Christmas' Gloria Stewart, who provides Christmas dinner every year for hundreds of elderly folk; Louise Wilcockson, who set up the organisation My Cup of Tea to help professionals with mental health conditions; Nasima Akther Sheffield Council's first female Asian councillor who founded the Asian Women's Forum; Claire Throssell, from Penistone who campaigns for the rights of children in abusive relationships following the murder of her two sons by her ex husband; and Jen Dewsnap, who is the founder of Doncaster Pride.

To view the map click here: https://amnesty-uk.carto.com/builder/904ff759-2bc8-4a2a-ade8-ebd39fc4a4d4/embed

On seeing the map, Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, who founded the Suffragette movement said: “As we celebrate International Women’s Day, there is no better time to launch this map and push these incredible women into the spotlight to be praised and recognised for their work.

Maureen Greaves

Maureen Greaves

“I imagine if the suffrage campaigners of old, including my great-grandmother Emmeline and grandmother Sylvia, could see Amnesty’s map, they would be extraordinarily moved. Because while together they helped set a precedent for women taking action, I doubt they would have known what their irrepressible drive and attitude would resonate 100 years later – and give visibility to women who are standing up and promoting human rights in such a varied and all-encompassing way.”

Background: Deadliest year on record?

The Suffragette Spirit campaign forms part of Amnesty’s wider Brave campaign, that launched last year and seeks to highlight the dangers facing human rights defenders around the world and afford them better protection.

Its latest report, Deadly but Preventable Attacks: Killings and Enforced Disappearances of Those who Defend Human Rights, reveals the shocking numbers of people who have been attacked, lost their lives or disappeared without trace in their fight to protect the vulnerable and improve society.

Hannah Peck

Hannah Peck

This year marks the 70th anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. Decades on from the landmark document’s publication, fundamental human rights continue to be ignored and abused.

Women in particular face danger because of a so-called ‘double-discrimination’ – they are attacked for both their sex and being a human rights defender. In many cases they challenge the accepted norms and stereotypes in their society to fight injustices. Others are attacked just for where they live, such as in a war zone or where communities are in the grip of organised crime.

For more information visit www.amnesty.org.uk/brave

Nasima Akther

Nasima Akther

Alison Teal

Alison Teal

Claire Throssell

Claire Throssell

Jen Dewsnap

Jen Dewsnap