To mark the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote in 2018, the charity ran an extraordinary day of events on International Women’s Day.
The charity’s contemporary heroines were presented with Freedom scrolls based on those designed by suffragette and revolutionary Sylvia Pankhurst. Just as Sylvia presented the scrolls she’d designed to newly freed suffragettes at breakfast events, these modern heroines were presented Freedom Scrolls at a breakfast reception. In the spirit of Sylvia Pankhurst, these valiant campaigners for freedom and democracy were all women who have refused to bow to the designation of women as victims. (Scroll down to see the full list of award recipients below).
The Freedom Breakfast was followed by a Gala film screening of Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible at the Castle cinema in Hackney, a Centenary Tea Party and a filmed debate and discussion at the WORLDwrite centre, entitled Suffragettes then and now.
And the Winners Were…
Claire Fox, Director Academy of Ideas
Claire was selected for her inspiring work in establishing the annual Battle of Ideas Festival, where the motto is “Free speech allowed,” which many WORLDbytes volunteers have filmed and learned from over the years. She also founded the national schools Debating Matters competition, co-founded a residential summer school, The Academy, to demonstrate ‘university as it should be’, and, as a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, never holds back in challenging sacred cows. She is author of the Free Speech book I Find That Offensive. Sylvia Pankhurst would certainly approve of her commitment to always winning arguments publicly, rather than maneuvering behind closed doors. Her spirited defence of freedom and free speech made her a very deserving nominee for a Freedom Scroll.
Lenore Skenazy, President of Let Grow
Lenore was nominated for her tireless campaigning and for her feisty belief that ‘there’s no reason kids today can’t do everything their parents did as kids’. Lenore was elected as ‘America’s Worst Mom’ by The New York City newspaper after she let her nine-year-old ride the subway alone. In response, Skenazy founded the book, blog, and movement Free-Range Kids, with the aim of fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger. Lenore is now the President of Let Grow, which she set up in 2017. Let Grow’s mission is to challenge the idea that kids today are somehow more physically, emotionally and psychologically fragile than any generation before them. Their aim is to ‘end the culture of over-protection through our school programmes and pass the Let Grow Bill of Rights’. The vilification of Lenore for her belief in parents and that young people learn best un-cosseted, has only strengthened her conviction and fight for ever greater freedom for young and old, making her more than worthy of the Freedom Scroll.
Dame Ann Leslie, Journalist
Dame Ann Leslie was nominated for her distinguished career as a reporter and a foreign correspondent at a time when such jobs were considered unsuitable for women. She has recently argued that today’s feminists ‘spend too much time saying women are traumatised because some silly old drunk in parliament put his hand on her knee.’ For Dame Ann Leslie, wailing over knee-touching makes women appear, frankly, pathetic. She argues that ‘you can’t say women are strong and empowered and then say they’re scared and they’re going to cry.’ Always prepared to speak her mind and make a stand against the Victorian view of women as pathetic victims puts her up there in the Suffragette tradition and a grand winner of a Freedom Scroll.
Dr Munira Mirza, Former Deputy Mayor of London for Education and Culture
Munira was selected for her outspoken belief in universalism, defence of civil liberties, freedom and democracy and the brave challenge she has made to victim culture and the grievance-taking it encourages. Munira has written extensively on cultural and social policy in the UK. She is a founding supporter of Change Britain, a cross party campaign set up to make a success of Britain’s exit from the EU. Munira’s resolute belief in the capacity of all citizens to have their say, in the will of the majority and democracy, her refusal to bow to special treatment or protection for women or minorities, who she sees as more than capable equals, puts her firmly in the tradition of Sylvia Pankhurst. She is an inspiring winner of a Freedom Scroll.
Dr Joanna Williams, Author of Women vs Feminism: Why We All Need Liberating from the Gender Wars
Joanna was nominated for her amazing work as an author and writer, particularly on issues such as gender and feminism and on education. Joanna’s writings have been published everywhere and have successfully raised the case for making knowledge paramount in the face of attempts to turn schools into behaviour modification units. When she speaks in public and the videos WORLDbytes volunteers have filmed of her, Joanna always provides a much needed wake-up call and the public are now listening in. Joanna’s latest extraordinary book inspired WORLDwrite’s latest film project Women: A Success Story. Her commitment to overcoming the gender wars, seeing men as our allies not enemies in the fight for a better world, makes her a more than worthy recipient of a Freedom Scroll, in the fine tradition of Sylvia Pankhurst.
Ann Furedi, Chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS)
Ann was nominated for her tireless campaigning work to decriminalise abortion in the UK. Ann Furedi has been CEO of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) since 2003, which provides abortion services to nearly 65,000 women a year in England & Wales. Ann has written extensively in defence of women’s autonomy and reproductive choice and is the author of The Moral Case for Abortion. Ann’s work has enabled thousands of women to determine their own futures, careers and decisions about when to start a family. Her work to decriminalise abortion completely in the UK has ensured that the final hurdle to women’s freedom may well soon be won. Her trust in women and their families puts her firmly in the camp of Sylvia Pankhurst’s fine tradition. She is richly deserving of a Freedom Scroll.
Rania Hafez, Founder ‘Muslim Women in Education’
Rania has been a terrific guest on WORLDbytes shows and a rare campaigner for free speech in the face of politicians shutting down debate. Rania has questioned the government’s Prevent policy and its failure to tackle anti-human ideas. She is the founder of ‘Muslim Women in Education’, a professional network for educationalists and researchers. Rania is Programme Leader for the MA Education at the University of Greenwich and a Fellow of the Muslim Institute. Never afraid to speak her mind, to support freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and free speech most vitally for those she disagrees with, Rania was a much deserved winner of a Freedom Scroll.
Julia Hartley-Brewer, Journalist
Julia is a newspaper columnist and radio show presenter on talkRADIO. Julia was nominated as a contemporary heroine for refusing to be portrayed as a victim of sexual harassment, after The Sun revealed that the Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, touched her knee 15 years ago. Tweeting after The Sun’s revelations, Hartley-Brewer said: ‘This ‘incident’ happened in 2002. No one was remotely upset or distressed by it. My knees remain intact.’ Julia’s stand against victimhood should more than earn her a Freedom Scroll as a great exemplar of what women today really are, that is, robust equals.
Mary Dejevsky, Writer and broadcaster
Never afraid to challenge the consensus, Mary is one of the country’s most respected writers and commentators on Russia, the EU and the US and has worked as a foreign correspondent all over the world, including Washington, Paris and Moscow. She is former chief editorial writer at the Independent and regularly appears on radio and television. WORLDbytes volunteers have filmed Mary on panel debates and found her determination to get to the truth, to speak out on what is really happening, most inspiring. She has questioned everything from Russia-bashing to Brexit panics, to ageism, to bombast about North Korea. Mary always presents an international perspective, a determination to get to the heart of things, often to see for herself, and a willingness to see the best in people. Her belief that cynicism and suspicion do more harm than good is a great lesson for all of us who want a better world. She has more than earned her scroll.
Dr Ellie Lee, Director of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies
Ellie has been nominated for the excellent discussion programme she made with WORLDbytes, which is still much used as an educational resource, and her resolute belief in freedom for women and parents. She is the author of Abortion, Motherhood and Mental Health: Medicalizing Reproduction in the United States and Great Britain and co-author of Parenting Culture Studies. Her work on health-related issues, including abortion, reproductive technologies, infant feeding, post-natal depression and men’s health have consistently put the needs of families first and made freedom from meddling, regulation and control by so called experts, paramount. Ellie’s belief in people rather than bureaucrats and policy wonks has made her a highly respected heroine for humanists and freedom lovers everywhere and much deserving of a Freedom Scroll.
Bríd Hehir, Writer, researcher and Social Activist
Bríd was nominated for her brave work around female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) via her Shifting Sands website. Bríd has been prepared to question campaigns around FGM, the reported prevalence of the practice, official and media responses, the conflation of different types of procedures, the criminalisation of all practitioners and panics about it in the UK. She has argued and demonstrated ways in which high-handed intervention and NGO meddling can do more harm than good. Brid has worked in the NHS for over 30 years – as a nurse, midwife, specialist heath visitor and senior manager. She has stood up too for women’s freedom to do as they will to their bodies. Her very brave stand on an issue which is so emotive is more than deserving of a Freedom Scroll.
Josie Appleton, Writer and campaigner
Josie is director and founder of the Manifesto Club and her campaigning work on freedom and civil liberties has inspired many WORLDbytes videos. She is a journalist and essayist, who comments frequently on contemporary freedom issues, from the French burqa ban to smoking bans, from free speech to Common Law liberties. She writes about the history and philosophy of freedom at notesonfreedom.com. Her book, Officious: Rise of the Busybody State, was published in autumn 2016. Her work has brought to the fore and challenged the denial of many everyday freedoms from leafletting to drinking. She has highlighted the real dangers in looking to the law to solve problems and has championed the capacity we all have to deal with problems ourselves. Josie is a modern day freedom campaigner most deserving of our scroll.