(Illustration by Femke de Jong)

What the Frock! Comedy and Bristol Women’s Voice Present – 27th of March 

Update: This event has been rescheduled to Tuesday the 27th of March at 8pm. The deadline for refunds if you cannot attend is Thursday 16th of March. Please contact WeGotTickets direct by 16 March if you require a refund. Thank you!

For one night only, Bristol’s award-winning all-female comedy night What The Frock! is back, back, back. This very special, one-off comedy show is a fundraiser for the charity Bristol Women’s Voice and is part of BWV’s series of events throughout 2018 celebrating the centenary of (some) women finally receiving the vote. Our phenomenally popular compere CERYS NELMES is returning as your host for the evening and will introduce a star-studded line-up that includes KATE SMURTHWAITE, ATHENA KUGBLENU, AMY MASON and the incomparable ADA CAMPE. Tickets are available here.

Your Future Your Choice 

A series of events throughout 2018 bringing girls from years 6 and 11 together from six schools at each event. Girls will meet inspirational women role models on identity and empowerment with an emphasis on delivering positive change. Girls discuss what changes they would like to make in school and in their lives and how to do it. The girls will also plan future events.

Votes for Women at MShed –  30th June 2018

10.30 – 4.30

Free – donations welcome

A one-day event at M Shed in May 2018 informing the city about its rich suffrage history

  • Screening of the film ‘Make More Noise: Suffragettes in Silent Film’
  • UWE drama students performing the short play How the Vote Was Won, written by Cicely Hamilton in 1913
  • Contemporary panel discussion on what the vote has done for women
  • A women’s suffrage walk by Lucienne Boyce, author of “Bristol Suffragettes”
  • An introduction to women’s suffrage in Bristol by Lucienne Boyce and June Hannam
  • ‘Meet the experts’ stall to discover local women’s history and how to do your own research
  • A ‘Voting Booth’ by Dreadnought Southwest to hear stories about local pioneering women.
  • Activities for children facilitated by the Children’s Scrapstore.

Future Brunels – the week of the 23rd June (International Women In Engineering Day)

The SS Great Britain Trust’s Future Brunels programme, launched in 2011, is committed to giving young people real-world experiences – working closely with school and industry. From exploring the science behind the rollercoasters at Thorpe Park, discovering forensic science at a ‘Crime Scene House’ or learning about the latest animation technology with Aardman, the programme aims to inspire students to consider career possibilities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). To mark International Women in Engineering Day 2018, the Trust’s education team and the Society of Women Engineers are developing a hands-on science event particularly aimed at encouraging young women to consider studying STEM subjects and showcase the range of exciting career options available in this field. More details to follow soon.

 An Audience with Sarah Guppy – June 2018

An audience with Sarah Guppy, a new play by Sheila Hannon in partnership with Show of Strength about an unsung inventor and designer. Kim Hicks plays the remarkable woman who mat have taught IK Brunel more than a thing or two about suspension bridges. Sarah Guppy was responsible for bringing Brunel to Bristol in the first place.

UpFest: Women & Walls – 28th – 30th July 2018

Europe’s largest, free, street art & graffiti festival, attracting over 350+ artists painting 35 venues throughout Bedminster & Southville, Bristol from 28th-30th July. Talented artists travel from 40+ countries and across the UK to paint live on 40,000 sq ft of surfaces in front of 50,000 visitors.  The festival had a media reach in 2017 of 498 million! Upfest plans to commission four female Street Artists to mark the centenary with work exploring and celebrating the Suffrage Movement. This will include an international female artist and two British Artists. One piece will celebrate the history of suffrage, a second will look at present day women’s lives, and the third will look to the future for women’s rights. In 2008 Upfest had only 5% female artists by 2017 this has increased to 25%, their goal for 2018 is to push this past 30%.

Conversations with Suffragettes – 10th -16th October (Local Democracy Week)

Actors and volunteers dressed as Bristol suffragettes will be out and about  in the city at places such as supermarkets, bus stops, buses,schools and community centres. The Suffragettes will engage people in conversation about the importance of women gaining the vote and why it is important for modern day women to use their vote and how this can raise women’s policies up the political agenda.

Women’s Landmarks: A Site Specific & Digital Game. A collection of digital site specific games, designed and built by young women in Bristol.

The games tell the story of the women’s suffrage movement through interaction with place and history. The games will be designed to fit with a specific location/story. To play participants will scan the QR code on a floor decal which gives access to that location’s games. The decal will have a short overview of the historic event so it also acts as a temporary plaque about suffrage history in Bristol. The project will be led by Dr Constance Fleuriot (Women In Games Ambassador) and founder of Bristol Women’s Tech Hub, partnering with Girrrl Games. The games will be developed and built by young women aged 13-18, with two day workshops being run at three different locations across Bristol. The programme takes participants through game development, from concept to design and delivery. The workshops will include talks from inspirational women in the tech industry, and a site visit to the location their game is based on with Madge Dresser – a leading women’s suffrage historian. The games will go into a competition with the public voting for an  audience award and also a professional award selected by a panel of industry experts. The winning game design team will be given ongoing mentorship following the programme.

Bristol Radical History Group – October 29th

BRHG are screening MAKE MORE NOISE! Suffragettes in the Silent Cinema at The Cube Cinema on May 7th. This film highlights the passion and media savvy of the suffragette’s struggle, offering a fascinating portrait of British women during this time. “You have to make more noise than anybody else” Emmeline Pankhurst

£4 waged/£3 unwaged

Bristol Ensemble At St Georges Bristol Notes For Women – Throughout 2018

Organised by St Georges Bristol, this will be a year long celebration of music by women composers through the ages: bringing to light neglected names from the past and new voices for our time.  The events will inspire and engage audiences of all ages with adventurous and wide ranging concerts, sharing individuals’ stories in the context of women’s suffrage. New music commissions will be created to swell the repertoire & create legacy. An outreach programme & workshops will inspire the next generation of composers & performers. More information can be found about the events here.

Women with Vision at Royal West of England Academy (RWA) – 16 Dec 17 – 11 Mar 18

In a year of national milestones, the RWA marks the impact of female artists on our country’s artistic landscape with four diverse exhibitions of historic and contemporary works. Women with Vision includes works by Cornelia Parker, Sandra Blow, Sonia Lawson, Elisabeth Frink, Anne Redpath and many others.

As well as coinciding with Vote100 celebrations, the exhibitions also commemorate 160 years since the RWA first opened its doors and 250 years since London’s Royal Academy was founded. Featuring members of both Academies, Women with Vision celebrates the pivotal roles the artists have played in the histories of both institutions.

A programme of talks, lectures and tours also accompany the exhibition. Find out more and book your tickets via the RWA websitehttps://www.rwa.org.uk/whats-on/women-vision

Bristol Women’s Literature Festival

Organised by Women’s Literature Festival, the programme will include:
● Spoken word launch party ● Women writing today: a celebration of contemporary writers ● 1918 – 2018: Feminism 100 years after suffrage ● Writing YA: organised in partnership with Cotham School and Rife ● Why we love talking about books: The Read Women project discusses our relationship with reading ● Schools workshops: Workshops will introduce 6th form students at Backwell, Cotham and Bristol Cathedral to work by women modernist writers. This ties in with the themes of novel The Red Deeps. ● Children’s workshop

Women of The Year Awards 

The Bristol Post and Bath Chronicle Women of the year Awards are all about celebrating inspiring female role models across our two cities. With new research showing that UK is missing out on a £10.1 billion economic boost by not doing enough to support women in business, these role models are more important than ever. The winners and finalists of this year’s awards set a glowing example to the next generation. They are the pioneers working to narrow the gender gap in business; inspiring young women with the confidence to go out and make their mark.

Bristol Cathedral Events

Bristol Women at War 15th January – March

Bristol Women at War examines the types of war work performed by women during WW1 and charts the shift in the workplace as women took on jobs traditionally performed by men. The exhibition will

examine the growth in voluntary work across the City that saw women taking leading and influential roles in organisations like the Bristol Inquiry Bureau and the Red Cross Society, and tell the stories of often unsung ‘sheroes’ including the women who tried to keep families running whilst husbands, sons and brothers were away. The exhibition is presented as part of the Cathedral’s ongoing First World War remembrance.

No Man’s Land 6 April – 1 July

No Man’s Land offers rarely-seen female perspectives on the First World War, featuring images taken by women who worked as nurses, ambulance drivers, and official photographers, as well as contemporary artists directly inspired by the conflict. Commemorating the First World War Centenary, No Man’s Land features photographs by three women of the epoch, alongside three women making work a century later.

Rife Film 

Rife Magazine premiered their short film In Our Hands at IWD on the 3rd of March. The film was produced in partnership with Watershed, Bristol Youth Links and Bristol Women’s Voice. Featuring a poem by Malaika Kegode, the film reflects the diverse experiences of young people and what women are still fighting for.

Watch In Our Hands online now.

By BWV Reporter Ana Crespo

By the end of 2014, women in the UK were earning a 17.5 per cent less than men, according to the OECD, which means that women earned 82p for every £1 earned by a man. Across Europe, a woman should work 59 days a year more than a man so as to earn the same wage. Nine years of the Global Gender Gap Report suggest we will have to wait 81 years for gender parity in the workplace. And yet, we women go to work every day without blocking the streets shouting for justice.

Sandi Toksvi, one of the newly born Women´s Equality Party founders, said a few weeks ago “Women are certainly not equal. How is it that we still have a pay gap? What is it, 45 years since the Equal Pay Act?” It was not even an issue mentioned during the general election campaign.

But before all this, before the Global Gender Gap Report existence, before Hillary Clinton´s speech in Beijing (“Women´s Rights are Human Rights”), before gender equality became the third Millennium Development Goal, before UNWomen was born, before data, numbers, promises, projections and pledges, way before, decades ago, exactly 39 years ago, in May 1976, women at the Trico factory in Brentford had already pretty clear ideas. Clearer, it seems, than nowadays. They were 400 production women and, one day, five males were moved, working alongside them, doing exactly the same work. Each man earned £6.50 more at the end of the week. And how did these women from the seventies react? Wrote a letter to the local newspaper? Talked to their MP? Initiated a campaign to raise awareness? No. They went on strike for 21 weeks and did not come back to work until they won.

“It inspired women everywhere”, stated Sally Groves, one of those women who played a key role, last year during an act organized by Bristol University as part of the AHRC Research Network, ‘Women, Work and Value in Europe, 1945-2015’ “We demonstrated what women and what workers can achieve if they stand”. None of them had ever being on strike before. She remembers how twelve men fought with them from the beginning.

Miriam Gluck, author of ‘Women on the line’ has a very clear understanding of how where things for women in the factories. This sociologist spent a year working in a motor parts factory. According to her, the jobs were strongly marked by gender: all the semi-skilled, minimum training, assembly, low pay ones were for women. In contrast, men had training, promotions, access to the career ladder and, of course, they were the supervisors. And this border was unbreakable. “Back then the feminism didn’t seem to involve workers”, she recalled at the same event. “They worked long hours, they were tired, it was difficult to get involved in social movements, in activism”, she added. But they were very aware of feminism: dispute, solidarity and collectivism were part of their daily lives.

During the Trico 21 weeks strike they had 24hours pickets while police was helping the company. Groves recognizes the huge financial support from the Trade Union (Labour) and also the backing from the women´s movement. The day of the final negotiations, when they achieved equal pay, they all marched into the factory under pouring rain. “If you stick together and fight for what you believe in, you can move mountains and multinationals, as we proved”, she concluded.

Stick together. “Alone we are weak, together we are strong”. These powerful words belong to Mila Navarra, from the campaign organization ‘Justice for Domestic Workers’. “I have difficulties of speech and no time to prepare but I thought if I spoke from the heart it would be ok”, and it was. It was more than ok. Sharing the panel with Groves and Gluck, her testimony moved the whole audience. Navarra started claiming that domestic workers are now more vulnerable due to a change in law: the “tied visa” regime which prevents overseas domestic workers from changing employers, a step back for women´s rights. She told how domestic workers “shifts” are 9.30am to midnight with no tasks, no times and no privacy. They face physical abuse and sexual harassment. They are hidden, isolated, invisible, voiceless, vulnerable.

“Domestic workers employers sometimes say they don´t pay them because they are part of the family”, she complained referring to the au pair system. “It is very difficult to win our cases and sometimes we don´t have choice but to remain silent or come back to our countries. If we are brave enough, go undocumented” And she demanded people to “treat us like any other workers. We are not slaves!”

Gluck pointed that back in the 20s-30s domestic workers going to factories were happy to leave because for them it meant liberation: “When they left the factory gates they had their own lives”, she explained.

Tireless Navarra indeed used her heart to speak: “I have physical problems but I think if I study and prepare myself I will be able to be a more empowered woman and help other women (…) I hope I will not always be a domestic worker although I am proud of it”

Through history, women have been used and exploited to keep the lowest wages, the lowest status. Groves, Gluck and Navarra teach us a priceless lesson: if you fight, you may well win. Let´s have the confidence to do it.

By BWV Reporter Ana Crespo

“So many women are being abused and we don’t want to help them”

As part of the Festival of the Ideas, the activist Carolina Criado-Pérez presented her book ‘Do it like a woman… and change the world’ in The Watershed. The afternoon, just like the book, began reading an email from the woman who started all: Mum. “Don’t worry” said this MSF member to her daughter while she informed her of a bombing in a hospital that, don´t worry, it wasn’t hers. This time.

‘Do it like a woman’ is a sort of gallery of people to admire, women who stand up and try to change the world. From the doctor who practices abortions in international waters to help women in countries where the procedure is illegal to the Afghan MP forced to flee her country and rejected by the British embassy with a curt message that asylum was not available for victims of domestic abuse (“They said that would open the doors to too many women to come) or the Greenpeace activist trying to get female swimming suits in her organization, they are all different ways to illustrate misogyny around the world. They all respond to the same principle, in words of Criado-Pérez “men are human and women are women, men are the default and women are the minority”.

It was refreshing hearing the words “feminism” or “patriarchy” with no shadow of doubt or fear in a room full of people. During the presentation, the author gave many examples of how women’s experiences are not taken into account and how they are under-represented, discriminated, stereotyped and abused everyday all around the globe. How the lion share of the population would know the symptoms of a heart attack for example, and how those are more symptomatic in men, as heart attacks in women normally present as indigestion. How antiabortionists claim they are saving lives when so many women are dying unnecessarily. The street harassment that transforms a ‘you look lovely’ into a ‘f*** off’ in less than ten seconds because it is not a compliment, you are not a human being: just decoration. Or how the asylum seekers rules completely ignore gender: “the system works thinking in men experiences” Criado-Perez assured. And she added, “So many women are being abused and we don’t want to help them”.

On a personal note, she confessed that when she was 11 she noticed boys did not like her to talk so she started to try and shut up. “Now I wonder how on Earth did I think that I don’t have the same right to talk!” With participation from the audience, the issue of children’s choices (games, colours, etc) was discussed and Carolina Criado-Perez reminded everyone about the importance of education. Socialization begins early. When girls transform in young women they have absorbed all the stereotypes from the patriarchy and they think women in general are like people say “it is just my friends and I am different”.  Often, it is too difficult to challenge the boxes. When a woman makes her voice heard, she gets death threats, she gets raped. It is not easy. “You need time and experiences until you just say I cannot take it any more”, she explained. And she even proposed a solution: “If we get more women representation in media, in companies, in government, more young women will get on board”.

The term “feminism” was doubted during the question time and Criado-Perez insisted in reclaiming it once again: “the term is extremely important. We have an unequal gender role where one is on top and other on the bottom. Women are repressed. Any man who understands feminism will not be put off by the term”, she stated. And assured everyone that everyday she finds feminist males wanting to collaborate: “They are fantastic allies. Don’t forget that patriarchy oppresses both women and men”.

An important issue during the session was that of choice: what if women chooses to wax, what if women choose prostitution, etc. The author said she questions the concept of choice itself, if all the choices are free choice. “We are all human beings, it’s difficult to fight in all aspects of your life. I have no criticism to women who fall in line with what is expected from them. My concern is not women’s choices, they do what they have to do to survive. My concern is the society who pushes them into making those choices”.

But despite all the dark stories told and all the challenges ahead, this campaigner who has fought for representation in media, for women in banknotes or against harassment in Twitter ended with a smile: “Of course I am optimistic about the future”.

Jacqueline Rose recently received a warm welcome at Foyles bookshop, speaking about her latest publication Women in Dark Times for the Bristol Festival of Ideas. Most widely known for her work on the relationship between psychoanalysis, feminism and literature, Rose takes a postmodernist feminist approach to the social issues she debates. The book, she tells us, aims to offer a ‘new and courageous’ type of feminism that is borne from the female psyche.

Rose demonstrates her ideas through the lives and achievements of ten women, some better known than others. She begins with three biographical essays documenting the revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxembourg, the German-Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, and Marilyn Monroe. Although not feminists by definition, their lives are used by Rose to give a message. All three died young, and all – except arguably Monroe – were murdered. Rose defines all these women as fully accepting their consciousness, or their ‘inner darkness’, to use in fierce protest against the injustices of the modern world. In doing so, they become ‘truth tellers who lay bare the ugly secrets of consensus’. She is determined never to portray women solely as victims of their history, even if it is their history which eventually kills them.

In the central section of the book, Rose examines ‘honour’ killings with reference to three victims, Shafilea Ahmed (the Bradford teenager murdered by her parents in 2003), Heshu Yones (killed in 2002 by her Iraqi-Kurdish father) and Fadime Sahindal (a Kurdish immigrant to Sweden murdered by her father in 2002). She uses these cases to demonstrate the role of fear in patriarchal oppression; ‘if fear is something women experience, it is also something they are instructed to feel’. In taking their sexuality out of the control of men, these three women exposed the limits, and the actual fears, of their oppressors. The final three essays celebrate the work of the artists Esther Shalev-Gerz, Yael Bartana and Thérèse Oulton (the Lithuanian-born Shalev-Gerz works in mixed media; Bartana is an Israeli video artist; Oulton is an English abstract painter).

Rose harnesses the age-old feminist recognition that women are routinely refused access to the patriarchal world of reason and rationality, which in turn has meant women are defined as hysterical, and therefore incapable. The result of this discrimination, Rose suggests, has meant that women are more in touch with their psyche than men. She proposes that this self-engagement with the female consciousness, which she terms ‘the darkness within’, should be fully recognised and used in the struggle for equality, rather than overlooked in the quest for ‘enlightenment thinking’ and acceptance as rational beings. Feminists should seize the opportunity to not just observe the ‘mess’, as Rose terms it, but to look at how human drives and impulses are shaping the world. Because the women in question (and all women according to Rose), do not hide from ‘the most painful aspects of their inner world’, they are able to see more clearly when the outer world goes mad. In willingly treading the psyche of social issues, a new perspective would be created and new types of action could be taken.

Closing with the cry of  ‘women have been reasonable for far too long’, Rose makes an interesting argument. We must inhabit the unreason at the core of humanity, use the darkness within to fight the darkness in the outside world. Rose seeks to expose the limits of enlightenment thinking and to show the strengths drawn from inner chaos. Although this chaos does not sound like a state I would like to permanently inhabit, and critics have suggested that it could too easily play into the hands of patriarchal hysteria thinking, Rose has made a convincing argument. Her eloquence, her passion and her fiery desire for a new and refreshed feminism has won me over. It is time to embrace the darkness within. Or if you’re not ready to do that, it’s time to get yourself a copy of her book, if only for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Connie Ramsay

BWV Reporter

PhotobucketI know what your thinking, another article on Julian Assange. A quick look on the Guardian website shows that today alone there were 6 articles bearing his name, 15 yesterday. The thing that’s missing from every single one of them however is anything along the lines of, “I don’t care what excuse he has now he has been accused of rape and sexual assault and that is more important”.

Whatever your opinions of Wikileaks’ version of freedom of speech, how can we have a media so blinkered to the fact that two women are deserved a fair trial, no matter who their attacker is. The facts are that there is enough evidence for a trial involving him and he acted in a way that allowed him to be accused of rape and sexual assault by at least two women. Whether he did it or not – innocent until proven guilty and all that – he has provided enough behaviour to be have to be legally be tested.

Sweden itself has a history of doing deals with the US, fair point. The US justice system is very flawed and out for blood when it comes to Assange, fair point as well. But above the American’s, on a human level, is the fact two women may have been sexually assaulted by this man.

The very fact that this is mentioned in passing in every article, with quotes from the women’s lawyer such as, “This is very disappointing news, but we are getting used to disappointing news in this case.” Just shows that no matter how much we push for proper legal proceedings for women who have been raped, if that man is also a possible “war criminal” in the eyes of a much larger force than two women, then that vetoes any other crimes he may be responsible for.

By Jess Bunyan