“Woman power” bicycle kanga from The British Museum

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Powerful women on bicycles are everywhere these days–even in the stairwells of The British Museum!

The “Woman power” bicycle kanga shown above hangs in The British Museum’s North Stairs near the Africa galleries. It was printed for the Kali Mata Ki Jai (KMKJ) women’s centre in Gezaulole, Tanzania in 2005. The “woman power” kanga shows a woman on her bicycle with a cargo basket full to the brim. She smiles as she pumps the peddles, riding towards her destination with confidence and determination. Text along the lower side of the print reads “Mwanamke ni Chachu ya Maendeleo,” which translates to “woman is the yeast for development.”

The Kali Mata Ki Jai women’s centre of Gezaulole was established in 1990 by three local women who’s objective was to contribute to development and improve conditions for women in their community, a village of about 5000 people located 10 mile south of Dar es Salaam on the east coast of Tanzania. The centre’s name translates to “long live the black mother.” Before long, a group of ten women were working on projects through the collective. Kali Mata Ki Jai supports women through micro credit training, marketable crafts such as printed cotton and basketry, henna production, small scale farming of crops such as mushrooms, and cycling lessons for girls and women. A charitable foundation based in the Netherlands, KMKJ-ND, which sees cooperation among women in rural communities as a starting point for development, has worked with the centre since 2000.

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The “Woman power” kanga was produced as part of an initiative aimed at promoting cycling for girls
and women, as well as acting as a business model for micro-finance projects. A kanga is a rectangular panel of printed cloth including a written statement and worn as a garment most commonly in pairs by women or occasionally singly by men. The Kiswahili word ‘kanga’ means guinea fowl, which reflects the fabric’s ornate, colourful and often spotted patterns. The fabric provides a medium for women to communicate or speak out, and political messages are often printed on kangas, such as the example shown right of an Obama kanga also from The British Museum collection.

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Women at the Kali Mata Ki Jai centre designed the bicycle fabric in 2004, which was then printed at Urafiki, one of the oldest textile factories in Dar es Salaam. The project was financially backed by KMKJ-ND and the NCDO Front Office as part of the Micro Credit Fund for Rural Women in Tanzania. 4500 kangas were produced for sale in Tanzania and the Netherlands, and by 2005 they had all been sold. Two were purchased by The British Museum, one in the blue tones shown above and another in russet colours. The “Woman power” bicyle kanga went on display at The British Museum in 2013 as part of the Social Fabrics Exhibit.

20140720-193609.jpgProfits from the “Woman power” kanga bolstered the financial independence of the women involved in its production and their earnings represented an important contribution to their family units, thereby giving them more power and respect at home. The image of the woman cycling that decorates the kanga speaks about another type of independence and power–a powerful, independent woman cycling with determination, such as the Kali Mata Ki Jai mother cycling with her daughter shown left, as she navigates towards a better future with each turn of the wheel.

You can read more about the “Woman power” bicycle kanga on The British Museum Online Collection or the Kali Mata Ki Jai websites.

Sources

Main Image: Photographed by Sheila Hanlon at The British Museum, July 2014

“Woman power bicycle kanga,” British Museum Collection Online www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?partid=1&assetid=742463&objectid=1601570

Christopher Spring, “The World in Twenty Objects: Barack Obama’s Kenyan Victory Kanga,” The British Museum Blog, http://blog.britishmuseum.org/tag/kanga/

Kali Mata Ki Jai website, www.vrouwen.net/kalimata/

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Flora Drummond: The Suffragette General

www.sheilahanlon.com_flora_drummondThere’s a new addition the Wheelwomen pages, Flora Drummond. Check out her entry to find out more about how, as a member of the WSPU organising body, Flora contributed to the WSPU cause in England and Scotland.

As usual, there’s some cycling involved!

Wheelwomen is an index of biographies of prominent lady cyclists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The page is updated regularly, so do pop by to look for new profiles.

 

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Suffragettes on Wheels Talk at LBK, April 28th

www.sheilahanlon.com_lbktalk_suffragebike

Suffragettes on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Edwardian Votes for Women campaign, Talk at The London Bike Kitchen, April 28th

I’ll be presenting an all cycling, all campaigning suffragettes on wheels bonanza Monday 28 April at the London Bike Kitchen.

Things kick off at 6:30 as part of LBK’s Women and Gender Variant (WAG) night. WaG is a dedicated space for women and gender-variant people to fix their own bikes, with mechanics on hand for help and advice. Read more about LBK’s WAG nights, and the exciting things they do and offer here, as well as how to join here: www.lbk.org.uk

My talk will present highlights from my research on women’s cycling and political activism in early 20th century Britain, with a focus on the suffrage era. Expect suffragettes and suffragists a-wheel on parade, campaigning in the countryside, riding across the country on pilgrimages, and even getting themselves arrested for militant arson attacks.

LBK is a great organisation, and one well worth joining and supporting!

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Mrs Fawcett’s Bicycle License: Cycling stories from the archive

 

www.sheilahanlon.com_Driving_License_Fawcett

Cycling history turns up in the strangest places. Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s permit to drive a bicycle in turn of the century Johannesburg, shown above, is one such curiosity from the archives.

This small paper license was one of the first ‘hits’ that I came across early in my research on women’s cycling history at The Women’s Library. It may be a minor part of the collection, a piece of ephemera tucked into a box of folders related to Fawcett’s role as a government official investigating conditions in Second Boer War concentration camps, but it’s a fascinating find that reveals a sliver of cycling history nonetheless.

Leafing through Fawcett’s handwritten notes, correspondence, photographs and early drafts of what was to be a hugely influential exposé on the human impact of war may seem like a strange way to go about researching cycling history. But, buried among the files, along with the last remaining nub of the pencil Fawcett used to jot down her field notes, sat her cycling and driving pass.

Boer_War_Camp_www.sheilahanlon.comFawcett, a well-known suffragist and president of the NUWSS, was appointed by the British government to lead a commission into the conditions faced by the families of Second Boer War soldiers in the concentration camps created to house them. The investigation corroborated Emily Hobhouse’s earlier indictment of the atrocious conditions women and children endured in these camps. For Fawcett, in addition to being a humanitarian cause, it served as a suffrage mission since she saw herself as a guardian of Uitlander civil rights.

During the trip, Fawcett was issued several regional driving permits, including the one shown above which granted permission to “ride, drive, and bicycle” in the municipality of Johannesburg. The permit dates to a time when bicycles were newcomers to the road and their legal status as vehicles was uncertain. Cyclists were often at the centre of conflict over road use and there was debate over how to apply traffic laws, licensing, road tax, and border crossing tariffs. Some municipalities introduced bicycle licenses as a means of regulating riders, while others did so as a form of taxation, which may explain the origins of Fawcett’s riding, driving and cycling pass.

The permit is also of interest for what it tells reveals about patterns of road use at the turn of the century. It reflects multi-vehicular traffic, with horse drawn carts, motor vehicles, and bicycles all sharing the road. Fawcett’s permit covered all these forms of transportation. Motorised vehicles were on the rise, but it would be decades before horse drawn vehicles were completely outmoded in South Africa or back home in Fawcett’s England.

Considering this driving permit was issued during an era when the women’s suffrage campaign was on the rise, it serves as a reminder that that women weren’t entirely exempt from legal rights and obligations, nor we’re they cut off from all avenues of political work. This is particularly poignant in the case of middle and upper class women like Fawcett and her circle who were most likely to take advantage of rights and opportunities, whether it meant running for election to their local school board or riding a bicycle.

Battersea_1895_www.sheilahanlon.comThough it is not clear if Fawcett used her bicycle in South Africa, we know that back home in England she was an avid cyclist. She was one of thousands of women who learned to ride during the 1890s cycling craze, such as the lady cyclists enjoying a run in Battersea Park shown left. In 1896, she wrote in a letter home to her mother reporting that she was learning to ride, but after three lessons was “still stupid at it.” She persisted, and eventually become a proficient cyclist.

A few years later, as the fad for cycling among middle and upper class women waned, Fawcett encouraged readers of Wheelwoman magazine to donate their unwanted bicycles to working girls clubs as a way of helping improve the lives of those “who labour in hot stuffy rooms day after day and would welcome the chance of borrowing a cycle.”

South Africa had a robust women’s cycling culture by the time Fawcett arrived. British magazine Lady Cyclist even had a regular columnist based in Johannesburg. Fawcett would not have been out place cycling in urban parts of South Africa, but the more remote regions where she visited concentration camps likely had not yet acclimatized to the sight of a women on a bicycle.

www.sheilahanlon.com_Fawcett_Hyde ParkAfter the turn of the century, bicycles played a part in the women’s suffrage campaign. The campaign tactics adopted by Fawcett’s NUWSS included bicycle parades and tours, while the WSPU used bicycles as get away vehicles in daring arson attacks and other militant actions.

When war broke out in 1914, Fawcett redirected her energy away from women’s suffrage and towards the war effort. As leader of the Active Service League, she ensured her new group’s agenda included Saturday afternoon bicycle parties and rides to local villages and hamlets.

Though we may never know the extent to which Fawcett took advantage of her “permission to ride, drive, and bicycle the municipal limits of Johannesburg,” her permit remains an interesting part of transportation history and an intriguing cycling artefact.

Have you stumbled across an item of interest to cycling history in a surprising place? Send in your story and it will be added to this post.

Sources and further reading

Main Image: Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s Bicycle Licence, The Women’s Library, LSE

Jane Howath, “Millicent Garrett Fawcett,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (2010-14)

David Rubinstein, A different world for women: The life of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1991)

“Wheelwomen A-H, Millicent Garrett Fawcett”, www.sheilahanlon.com (2014)

Wheelwoman magazine, 1897

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wheelwomen

Announcing The New Wheelwomen Page

It's dogged as done itWheelwomen is a micro-project featuring short profiles of women who made cycling history. While many of these individuals appear in the broader body of cycling and women’s history, they deserve attention in their own right. Not only were they pioneering lady cyclists, but many were accomplished in other aspects of their lives as well, such as politics, education, professional careers, art & literature, and the family.

This page will toast our cycling sisters past and present and put their experiences a-wheel in  context. New entries will be listed alphabetically.

Watch for features on activist Frances Willard, racer Tessie Reynolds, society cyclist The Countess of Warwick, champion Beryl Burton and more here. First up will be Sarah Grand, novelist and popularizer of the term ‘new woman,’ who embodied modern womanhood in her career, life, and on her bike in turn of the century Britain.

Explore Women on Wheels

Use the Wheelwomen tab on the toolbar to navigate to the page. Once there, click the portrait of a wheelwoman of interest to find out more. Regular updates will follow.

Know an inspiring wheelwoman?

Contributions and suggestions are welcome! Please get in touch through the comment section or email sheila DOT hanlon AT gmail DOT com.

 

 

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Cycling in Saudia Arabia: Wadjda and restrictions on women’s mobility

Wadjda

 

Haifaa al-Mansour’s new film Wadjda Renior with bikes, www.sheilahanlon.com raises issues in gender parity that resonate across time and place as it traces one girl’s quest to learn to bicycle. I hopped on my trusty iron stead and sped down to the Renoir, Brunswick Square for an afternoon matinee of the film, risking lightening strikes and melting humidity levels on a stormy summer day.

The eponymous star of the film, ten-year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed), a feisty schoolgirl with tom boy tendencies and a penchant for mixed tapes and converse sneakers, becomes set on cycling when she sees her friend Abdullah riding with the other neighbourhood boys. When Abdullah steals her headscarf and rides off with it as a prank, Wadjda vows to get a bike of her own so she can race him.

Wadjda’s mother, who is going through a crisis of her own as her marriage unravels, is appalled when her daughter asks for a bike, refusing to even entertain the notion. Saudi girls simply do not ride bikes-especially not nice ones with future marriage prospects to think about.

Despite this set back, Wadjda remains determined to buy a bike-not just any bike, but the green cruiser that swooshed into town like a dream on the roof rack of a delivery truck. It is clear that if she’s going to buy the bicycle, she’s going to have to raise the funds herself. Wadjda’s picks up production as part of a bracelet making cartel, selling zip lock bags of contraband club colored bangles at her school. She also acts as paid go between delivering love letters and arranging romantic rendezvous. The cash still isn’t rolling in fast enough. Instead, Wadjda sets out win the money in a Qur’an reading competition.

Without spoiling the bittersweet end of this touching coming of age story, Wadjda clearly lays out how deeply gender disparity is ingrained in everyday life in Saudi Arabia, cycling included.

The 2012 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report put Saudi Arabia near the bottom of its scale for gender parity, ranking it 131 out of the 134 countries looked at. These conditions stem in part from the country’s adherence to an ultra-conservative interpretation of the Qur’an, resulting in restrictions on women’s rights across the board. Mobility is one area that is compromised. Women are not permitted to drive vehicles, and must have a driver chauffeur them to places including work. To ride a taxi, women must be accompanied by a mahram (male guardian). Riyadh, where Wadjda is set, is the only city where women can ride the bus and even then they must use  a separate entrance and sit at the back.

In April 2013, restrictions on women’s bicycling and motorcycling were relaxed. The ban on cycling for Saudi women had been in place since 1990. Women are now permitted to cycle in designated areas, such as recreational centers. They must wear a full abaya, a black voluminous cape-like over-dress which stretches from head to toe, and be accompanied by a male chaperon. It is suggested that women do not cycling in places where men congregate to ‘”avoid harassment.”

Al-Yawm, a Saudi daily paper, reported “Women are free to ride bikes in parks, seafronts and other areas, provided that they wear fully modest dress, and a male guardian has to be present in case of falls or accidents.” Their account quoted an unnamed source from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Cycling is not to be adopted by women for transportation, nor are women encouraged to take up competitive sport. The decision on cycling is yet to be reviewed by the Shura council, Saudi Arabia’s top advisory body. The ban on women driving cars remains intact.

Saudi Arabia is not the only place where women’s cycling is forbidden. From the mid-1990s until 2012, cycling was a fine-able offense for women in North Korea. In parts of Africa, the taboo against women straddling a bicycle is so strong that riding is inconceivable. In Iran, cycling is permitted but frowned upon. The 200o Iranian film The Day I Became a Woman, directed by Marzieh Meshkin, puts a women’s bicycle race in the center of a women’s attempt to break free of her controlling husband. Ayatollah Elm Alhuda, an Imam quoted in the Mohabat News during the 2012 Olympics, explained the typical Iranian stance against women’s cycling, stating ”It is not a sin for a woman to sit on a bicycle saddle, provided she does so indoors or in her backyard…but if she cycles in public her movements and posture will lead to corruption and prostitution.”

The arguments against women’s cycling in Saudi Arabia and other areas where the practice is banned are not that different from those expressed when women’s cycling was first introduced in the West. Women’s cycling may not have been outlawed in the early 1890s, but social conventions certainly discouraged it ways that are comparable to the situation depicted in Wadjda. When Wadjda asks for a bike, her mother dismisses the idea outright and is dismayed that she should even consider cycling since it is not something girls do. The idea that respectable women shouldn’t bicycle was certainly expressed in the early days of cycling. Another scene showing Wadjda walking home from school alone, a construction worker yells out a sexualised comment, much like women complained men did when they went out walking, especially along the club row near Hyde Park in Victorian London. Victorian cyclists were targets for unwanted comments, harassment and even physical assault in some cases.

Wadjda coerces her friend Abdullah into letting her learn to ride using his bicycle. They sneak the bicycle up to a hidden courtyard on the roof of her house where she can practice in seclusion. This is reminiscent of the Victorian women who learned to ride at under the cover of night or in private gardens, free from the prying eyes of the public. When Wadjda’s mother catches her riding, an act made worse by the fact she has invited a boy over to the house, Wadjda panicks and falls off the bike. “I’m bleeding!” Wadjda cries out, to which her mother replies “Oh no, your virginity!” Turns out, it was just a scraped knee. Victorians shared this concern but did not put so boldly. Instead, 1890s anti-cyclists spoke of the dangers of saddles, vibrations, and physical contact with female anatomy.

Cycling is only one way that gender disparity touches women’s lives in Wadjda. Even before she asks for a bicycle, Wadjda’s mild disobedience and pre-teen rebellion, consisting mostly of blaring pop music in her room, wearing jeans and sneakers under her abaya, and questioning restrictions placed on her as a girl, raised eyebrows. This is, after all, a community where phones ring off the hook with gossip about which teacher has been caught with a ‘handsome thief’ in her bedroom and whose daughter still isn’t married off. Jokes between Wadjda and her mother about marry her off turn out to be uncomfortably close to the truth when the marriage of one of her 12 year old classmates to a 20 year old groom is announced in school.

The impact of gender disparity on the lives of adult women is apparent in Wadjda’s mother’s struggles. Wadjda’s mother tries desperately to cling to her failing marriage, keeping her hair long and investing in a glamorous red dress to distract her husband from his search for a second wife who will give him the son she has not been able to produce. When her driver quits, she nearly loses her job since women are not allowed to drive and she turns down another job because male and female employees freely associate with each other. After she explains to her daughter why they, as women, are absent from family tree displayed in their house, Wadjda adds her name to her fathers branch, only to find the sticky note cruelly pulled off and crumpled up because only sons count in family lines.

The film shows how women in influential positions reinforce gender disparity, and are even complicit in it, by accepting restrictions themselves and imploring young women to go along with them, from Wadjda’s mother who normalizes wearing the full abaya to the teachers who admonish students for reading fashion magazines and evacuate the school court yard when men come into view. These women, it turns out, have their own skeltons in their closet despite their outward adherence to social regulations.

The film itself is of note for being the first full length features to be filmed in Suadi Arabia by a woman. To accomplish this in a country where outdoor space is segregated by gender, al-Mansour directed scenes from inside a van alongside the set.

When asked by the Independent to react to the relaxation of the restrictions on cycling for Saudi women, Haifaa al-Mansour commented “Yes, that’s great, right? We should ne happy that changes like this are taking place. I know they seem like they are small and they don’t mean much, but it shows that attitudes towards women are changing, and women are getting more liberties, even if it is very slowly. There is still a long, long way to go, but hopefully things like this pave the way for bigger changes.”

Other Saudi women find the lifting of the cycling ban underwhelming. Twitter feed back suggests the weather in Saudi Arabia is not conducive to cycling, that the roads are not suitable for cycling, riding in an abaya is dangerous, and women didn’t want this ruling anyways-they’d rather have more meaningful rights, like the vote.

The relaxation of restrictions on cycling and critical success of Wadjda may not constitute a full blown feminist revolution in Saudi Arabia, but lets hope as al-Mansour suggests they are steps in the right direction.

 

 

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Suffragettes on Wheels: Emily Wilding Davison centennial bike ride and lecture


On June 15th, 100 women on bicycles decked out in suffragette swag will take to the curvy tree lined lanes between Longhorsley and Morpeth, Northumberland. Some will be in Edwardian garb, others in elegant hats, and many will be flying the purple, white, and green. All will have Emily Wilding Davison in their hearts and minds.

June 2013 marks 100 years since WSPU campaigner Emily Wilding Davison was fatally injured at the Epsom Derby. Much has been made of the centenary in the press and women’s communities, but questions remain about the circumstances surrounding Emily’s last act of defiance. Public interest in Emily has been unprecedented–matched only by that of the suffrage era when she became the first ‘Votes for Women’ martyr.

You can find more about Emily in the many articles that have flooded the press in the last few weeks. A quick google search will leave you with more links than you can shake a suffragette banner at. One thing shared across recent coverage is speculation about that century old question: what was Emily’s exact intent when she snuck under the barrier at the Tattenham Corner and intercepted the kings horse?

Of note among recent coverage is Martin Pugh’s History Today article, “Emily Wilding Davison: The Good Terrorist”, which offers an exacting account of the Davison case and the reaction to it. June Purvis’s editorial in Women’s History Review, “Remembering Emily Wilding Davison (1872-1913)” reflects on Emily’s character, motivation and activism, providing insights that may help understand what happened on that fateful derby day. Clare Balding’s documentary Secrets of a Suffragette is well worth viewing, particularly for its forensic analysis of the film footage showing Emily’s accident. Highlights from The Women’s Library material related to Emily now held at LSE is available to browse in an online exhibit. For a local history perspective, see Morpeth based genealogist Maureen Howes’ book Emily Wilding Davison: A Suffragette’s Family Album. You can also read how the Guardian reported Emily’s death in 1913 on their From the Archives blog.

Two centennial weekends are planned for mid June; The Wilding Festival June 13-16 in Bloomsbury, which Emily would have known well as a London based WSPU campaigner and the Emily Inspires Centennial Weekend June 13-15 centred up North in Morpeth where Emily’s family lived and where her final resting spot was to be.

The Morpeth based Emily Inspires project has spearheaded a host of Davison memorial projects ranging from suffragette teas and banner making workshops, to writing and drawing competitions, to an oral history project involving local school children. Kate Willoughby’s new play exploring critical moments and relationships in Emily’s life, To Freedom’s Cause, premieres in Morpeth June 14th. Morpeth Town Hall will have rare artefacts on view, including Davison family treasures and the WSPU scarf believed to be the one Emily tried to throw over the king’s horse, in an exhibit called “Northumberland’s Lawless Lassie.”

Cycling will play a major role in how Emily’s life and politics are celebrated in Morpeth. As part of “Bikes and Bonnets” a band of 100 cyclists, one to mark each year since Emily’s fatal accident at the Epsom Derby, will trace the route from her mother’s house in the village of Longhorsley to Morpeth. Local artist Elaine Porter has designed Edwardian hats, cleverly constructed to be fit over bike helmets, for the ride.

I will be delivering a series of talks on the subject of suffrage and cycling, linking the two together and exploring the place of the bicycle in the lives of women like Emily and her suffragette sisters. Though details of Emily’s personal life are difficult to uncover, we know that she was a keen cyclist who used her bicycle in both London and Northumberland.

“Suffragettes on Wheels: The Bicycle and the Emancipation of women in Edwardian Britain” talks take place on the following days:

May 29 Longhorsley Village Hall, 7:00
June 14 North of England Mining and Mechanical Engineers Institute, Newcastle, 7:00 pm
June 15 Morpeth Town Hall, 1:00

The talks are free, and last about one hour inclusive of a Q&A session.

I hope to see you at a talk or on the Bikes and Bonnets bike ride!

Hat for the Bikes and Bonnets ride

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Daisy Bell: The Countess of Warwick

Countess of Warwick Daisy Bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wheelwomen Pages have a new addition, Frances Evelyn ‘Daisy’ Greville, The Countess of Warwick. Daisy, as she was commonly known, was a society hostess, royal mistress, advocate of women’s and worker’s rights, and a pioneering lady cyclist.

Daisy was, without a doubt, one of the most fashionable bicycle belles of her time. Some have even suggested that she may have been the inspiration behind “Daisy Bell,” Harry Dacre’s 1892 music hall hit about a bicycle built for two.

You can read more details about Daisy’s life, politics and passion for cycling, scandals and society gossip included, on her Wheelwomen page.

There is a flower within my heart, Daisy–Daisy, Planted one day by a glancing dart, Planted by Daisy Bell…

 

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Cycling…errr…Walking with Women, Cambridge

The Cyclist, Walking with Women

No history of Cambridge would be complete without a mention of cycling, and Shape East’s new Walking with Women is no exception. One stop on this self guided tour recalls a day in 1897 when the effigy of a lady cyclist effigy flew high above a raucous crowd gathered to oppose the admission of women to the university.

Walking with Women, curated by Hollie McNish, tells the story of the city from a feminist perspective through historical sketches, art, architecture and poetry. The tour was launched at Michaelhouse Cafe 21 Jan 2013 with an exhibit and night of poetry and readings from the booklet. The exhibit is on display until 3 Feb 2013 at the Michaelhouse Cafe, Trinity Street, Cambridge. The best way to experience it is by picking up a copy of the tour book and hitting the streets.

Cambridge’s history is dominated by stories of triumphant men,Walking with Women Cover but Walking with Women documents how women were part of its brickwork too. A stop in Cambridge’s main Market Square serves as a reminder that this part of the city has been a commercial center and gathering point for men and women since Anglo Saxon times. Elizabethan later women met here to gather fresh water from the communal fountain erected in 1610. A few centuries on, a group of suffragists led by Mrs Rackham assembled around the square’s then grand Victorian fountain, now a crumbling ruin, before setting off on the 1913 NUWSS Great Pilgrimage to London’s Hyde Park.

Gazing west from the fountain, the white limestone pillars of the University’s Senate House are just visible in the next square over. A shop lined cobbled lane leads to the vast gated lawn of this stately neoclassical building, where key decisions determining the governance of Cambridge have been made since 1730. A quick right turn delivers you into the shadow of a towering red sandstone building with stacks of spires and wide gabled windows. This is Gonville and Cais College, and it was from one of these windows that protesting students suspended an effigy of a lady cyclist in 1897. You can see the scene today compared to a picture of the event published in the day’s newspaper in the photo below.

Dr Sheila Hanlon, Cambridge Research, www.sheilahanlon.com

“The Cyclist,” a midway stop along the tour, is an expanded version of a posting you may have read on www.sheilahanlon.com. You can read the story as it appears in Walking with Women, with an accompanying poem by Roseanna Waterfall and illustration by Dilara Arin, here.

Newnham College Archives Cyclist Effigy, www.sheilahanlon.comNewnam College Archives supplied the image shown left of the protest and effigy reproduced from the original photograph held in their collection.

The Walking with Women self guided tour book is available at the Cambridge Folk Museum, Michaelhouse Cafe and other local galleries.

You can also help support the project by purchasing a copy here. Guided tours can be booked through Shape East. Watch for further developments, including the Walking       With Women iphone app.

 

 

 

 

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Rally to Save The Women’s Library, Sept 22nd

The Cycling to Suffrage exhibit may have closed, but there is still time to get involved in the campaign to Save The Women’s Library. Join us this Saturday, Sept 22nd, in a rally to show how much this irreplaceable institution means to us!

Save TWL LogoIn March 2012, London Met launched a campaign to secure a new home, supporter or custodian for The Women’s Library. Hopes were high that one of the many institutions considering taking over the collection would put in a bid to keep the collection, staff, and building together. When the Aug 22 deadline arrived, only one bid was submitted, a proposal from LSE that will see the collection move to the 4th floor of their main library in central London.

On Sept 13, a selection committee formed by London Met assembled behind closed doors on to consider the LSE’s proposal. Meanwhile, outside the Holloway Road building, a group of Save the Women’s Library supporters held a demonstration that would have made their suffragette sisters proud, complete with banners, chanting, and soapbox testimonials about what the library meant to them. London Met’s Board of Governors will meet Sept 27 to ratify the recommendation put forward by the selection comittee, details of which have not been made public.

This weekend, the Save the Women’s Library campaign will again call on the spirit of their suffragist and suffragette predecessors as they rally outside The Women’s Library.

The Save The Women’s Library campaign, who are hosting this weekend’s rally, seeks to:

1) Keep the library in its current purpose built building

2) Ensure the collection remains intact and accessible to all

3) Retain the library’s expert staff

Over 12,000 people have already signed the on-line petition to Save The Women’s Library.

<–Click the icon to download the latest Save TWL press release, which covers Saturday’s Rally.

Rally Date: Sept 22nd, 2012

Time: 4-5pm

Location: The Women’s Library, Old Castle Street, Aldgate, London, E1 7NT

Closest tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East, Liverpool Street

 

See the Save the Women’s Library blog for further information, campaign news and contact details: http://savethewomenslibrary.blogspot.co.uk

You can print a flyer for Saturday’s rally here:  http://savethewomenslibrary.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/demonstrate-for-womens-library-22nd.html

If you haven’t signed it yet, please do so here:  http://www.thepetitionsite.com/925/128/986/save-the-womens-library-at-london-metropolitan-university/

Follow Save The Women’s Library on Twitter, @savetwl #savetwl 

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