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Title: OutwriteDates: 1982-8
Periodicity: monthlyPrice: 50p (1988)
Circulation: 4-5,000Place of Publication: London
Outwrite newspaer logo


An ‘international feminist’ newspaper run by a mixed collective (that is, made up of white women and women of colour). Outwrite‘s commitment to international feminist struggle is illustrated by the publication of its first issue on 8th March 1982 (International Women’s Day), and by the many front covers it devoted to International Women’s Day (IWD) over the course of its run. Dedicated to providing news for women, by women, in stark contrast to the male-dominated mainstream media. Outwrite came out of a workshop run by Dena Attar and Shaila Shah at the Women’s Liberation Movement national conference 1979, held in Manchester. Workshop participants felt there was a need for a more ‘public’ feminist publication – something that could be handed out outside train stations, as well as circulated around a subscription list. Outwrite set out to be a ‘campaigning newspaper that would not only share and spread news effectively but also mobilise women’ (Shah, 2012). Through its international focus, Outwrite helped to foster a global feminist network, with contacts and readers all over the world.

“the press, the radio and the television are not ours. We do not have free access to them, we do have not control over what is presented to us. WE NEED TO HAVE OUR OWN MEDIA […] WE NEED to bring more news and stories from abroad or back home and REGULARLY; news that is important TO US; news that we can SHARE IN, NEWS that we can ACT UPON […] WE NEED to let out some of our anger at the ways in which the media in this country is an INSULT to us. The paper will change as women’s lives change; we hope that Outwrite and the resources it provides will help all women to bring about the changes we want.’

Outwrite 1, pp.1-2.
Artist unknown, feminist symbol made of racially diverse women's heads, Outwrite 56
Artist unknown, feminist symbol made of women’s heads, Outwrite 56
  • Anti-racism
  • Anti-imperialism
  • International Women’s Day
  • The women’s movement in Chile
  • Violence against women
  • Liberation struggles in El Salvador, South Africa and Palestine
  • Women in Grenada
  • British miners’, nurses’ and cleaners’ strikes
  • Irish women’s struggles
  • Clause 28
  • Argentinian women’s movement.

Text-heavy with a newspaper layout: large format, columns of text, photographs and cartoons in black and white. Covers and contents one or two-tone, printed on thin paper. Devoted less space to ‘lifestyle/cultural’ content than other feminist publications and the ‘informative’ tone of the newspaper bleeds over into its aesthetic. Almost all of its covers feature photos of women engaged in protests or in active confrontation with authorities.

Banner for International Woemn's Day 1986, Outwrite 45
Artist unknown, Banner for International Women’s Day 1986, Outwrite 45

First published a few years into Thatcher’s premiership, at a time when the Black women’s movement was growing in strength and visibility. International events such as the military dictatorship in Chile (a country with which Outwrite had strong links), the apartheid regime in South Africa, the US invasion of Grenada and the Troubles in Ireland also shaped the content and direction of the publication. The first issue of Outwrite locates itself in the contexts of a resurgent feminist activism, very much catalysed by the so-called ‘Third World’ struggles of the 1960s. For example, the collective point to the renewed celebration of IWD by feminists in the late 1960s. ‘Around the same time, the increased militancy of women in various “Third World” countries ensure that the number of women coming together to celebrate IWD was ever-growing.’ (Outwrite issue 1)

A collective, The Feminist Newspaper Group.

The collective was always made up of at least 50% or majority Black women (NB Black is used here in the 1980s sense of ‘political blackness’, which included people of both African and Asian backgrounds). Founded by five women, four Black and one white, at its height the collective was 15 women strong.

[details derived from Shaila Shah’s contribution to the Liberating Histories Activist Legacies roundtable held at LSE Women’s Library in September 2022]

  • Typeset by Dark Moon
  • Printed by Rye Press.
An advert for "free lifts for women, South London" - Outwrite December 1983
Artist unknown, “free lifts for women, South London” – Outwrite December 1983

Initially the newspaper was funded by donations, including a large anonymous donation of £5000 in its first year, and fundraising. Benefits were held at Lambeth Town Hall. Revenue also came from subscriptions and advertising (usually recruitment adverts from sister projects). In 1983 the newspaper received Greater London Council (GLC) funding for two workers and some equipment, and were able to pay workers for the first time. An increase in GLC funding later allowed them to pay 6 workers for four days a week. This funding came to an end when the GLC was abolished in 1986 and the newspaper went back to relying on subscriptions, fundraising, donations and advertising.

[details derived from Shaila Shah’s contribution to the Liberating Histories Activist Legacies roundtable held at LSE Women’s Library in September 2022]

Outwrite had strong connections with feminist magazines both in the UK and abroad, from Spare Rib to Manushi. One of its founders, Shaila Shah, worked for WIRES prior to Outwrite. The newspaper also had a strong relationship with Isis International, which helped it build its distribution list.

Shaila Shah, ‘Producing a Feminist Magazine’, in In Other Words: Writing as a Feminist, ed. Gail Chester and Ingrid Neilsen (London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 93-99.

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Where to find Outwrite:
British Library,
Feminist Archive South (FAS),
Feminist Archive North (FAN),
Feminist Library
Digitised copies:
Digitised samples available at:
Deeds Not Words – Herstory publications archive
A repeated "HELP" stamp from Sappho

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