Friday, 9 March 2018

Fifty Years On

Al Garthwaite
Chloe Derbyshire writes:
Arriving at the Heart Café I had no idea what to expect, but after entering the room of the Women’s Rights 50 Years On event I felt excited for what was to come. The leader of the talk, Al Garthwaite had exceptional achievements; having helped to draw up the 7 demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement which fought for equal opportunities, free contraception, protection from sexual and domestic violence, and many more things which I take for granted and consider normal today.

The atmosphere inside the room was amazing; it felt as though I was watching a few women reminiscing on their past because many of the audience members had worked alongside Al in the Women’s Liberation Movement or other marches! I was in awe of all these women who had devoted their lives to improving rights for girls and women, rights that I don’t even think about as they have always been normal to me. To know that these women achieved such amazing things was truly inspiring! What is more, they still felt, despite everything that they have done, that there is more to do and will keep fighting for equality. Garthwaite ended her talk by referring to the #MeToo campaign, declaring that we will not give up the fight for equality. Her conviction and heartfelt determination gave me goose bumps.

Having learned about the Women’s Liberation Movement in history lessons through school, it was incredible to hear these accomplished women’s personal anecdotes which illuminated the negative ways in which women used to be treated (some of which triggered a laugh from the audience as the prejudice and misconceptions are almost hysterical). A few of the most shocking stories came from the audience in the ending discussion, with one woman declaring that it was more acceptable for her to call in with a hangover than with period pains, or Garthwaite herself being told that for the wage she wanted the boss could “hire a man for that”! These stories were truly moving and highlighted how far we have come, although there is still a long way to go.

Held on International Women’s Day this talk truly inspired me to explore the rights of women and realise that our small actions can make a massive impact. We will not give up the fight for equality #MeToo!!

Eleanor Smith writes:
Al Garthwaite's talk provided me with an extensive yet personal overview of the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement and the progress of women’s rights. I was previously unaware of the demands set out by the movement and their motivations, when the movement was first established. Therefore, it was interesting to learn about what those demands were and how they are different to the priorities of modern women, as a result of the progress activists have achieved for us. It was inspiring to be able to sit and listen to the progress that Al, and indeed many of the other women in the room, had achieved in their lives. As a young woman in the twenty-first century, the struggles I experience are different, particularly because of the influence of social media and the internet. There are also a lot of rights that I take for granted, so the event allowed me to learn about how these were achieved and reflect on them.

Sally Bavage adds:
Sally Bavage adds that the old slogan 'At first you sink into his arms, then you end up with … ' was completed gleefully by so many of the audience.  How does it finish?  'Your arms in his sink.'  Something I remembered holding on a poster back in 1971.  The catalogue of successes was long but occasionally there was a painful reminder of what women – and men – have had to confront in negotiating sexual politics and sexual relations.  Same old, same old,  Yes, we have come a long way, but #MeToo and #TimesUp indicate the journey certainly isn't over.

Al Garthwaite is a feminist activist and campaigner.  She helped draw up the first four Demands of the Women's Liberation Movement, performed street theatre at the first International Women's Day march, and co-founded UK's Reclaim the Night.  Focussing especially on combatting sexual and physical violence against women, she has also campaigned on women's health and reproductive rights, media representation on screen and behind the camera, equal pay and education, workplace opportunities and for nurseries and childcare.   She initiated and with others set up a holiday centre for women and children in the Yorkshire Dales.  As a founder of the feminist-run production company Vera Media she has made over 100 films, one of which was shown at the event.

We were very grateful for the support from Leeds University students Eleanor Smith and Chloe Derbyshire.

Audience Comments

From the start I was intrigued to hear from Al about progress for women since 1968 as I was involved in an early Women's Li group in Bolton, Lancs.  Al gave a fascinating account of her life as a feminist and the progress of women over the last fifty years.

Very interesting, informative and thought-provoking

Fascinating stroll down memory lane to remember how bad things were, but also how far we still have to go.  Al's background is so impressive and interesting!

Good to be reminded of the list of Demands for Women and ponder the progress towards meeting them.  Maybe give a more subtle exploration of power structures affecting both genders could be made at the end.

An interesting overview from a personal, involved, perspective.

Good.  I would have preferred more time for contributions from the audience but an interesting overview.

A very interesting review of feminism over 50 years, giving lots of food for thought and discussion.  An excellent speaker, extremely knowledgeable.

I left the pub to come to this and glad I did.  Things have advanced and I think they need to advance further.

Good input relevant and generated lots of discussion & participation.  Interesting to raise all the issues on women's rights & experiences – part of our lives.

Very inspiring and encouraging.  We have come a long way but a long way to go.

Absolutely amazing

Clear and informed account of campaigns over last 30/40 years

Excellent speaker in Al, quite moving.  Perhaps more time given to discussion would have been good.

I enjoyed this

Very interesting personal and political talk – good to be reminded of many times and events of the past 50 years

Really enjoyed this session.  A stimulating and thought-provoking evening


No comments:

Post a Comment