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This is an excerpt from a fellow bloggar, Harriet Thacker, a freelance Journo from Brighton. Her blog is generally on “a little bit of feminism and a little bit of other stuff” and today she has written up about a festival which seems to be growing year on year (look out for it next year) at the Southbank. Although admittedly I found out about this too late (I will certainly look out for it next year) I found Harriets article so interesting -on the issues about how the current funding cuts are hitting women hardest, and how it is more important than ever that the hard fought for gains women have made over the years are not savaged by the patriarchal ideology and reforms of the current coalition government.

Harriet says…

“Is it any surprise that these cuts have gone through so smoothly with only 21 of the 119 government ministers being women? Of the 113,000 local government workers who faced redundancy 73% were women; 77% of NHS workers set to lose their jobs are women and of the 710,000 public employees cut 65% were women. Not only are there the staggering job losses that have led to female unemployment being at a 25-year high, but women now also face cuts to legal aid.”

International Women’s Day was celebrated across the country this week, but as female unemployment in the UK reaches a 25-year high solidarity amongst women is more important than ever.


International Women’s Day has been recognised for over a hundred years and was proposed to honour women’s advancement while also serving as a reminder of the continued vigilance and action required to gain and maintain women’s equality.

Women in the UK are now facing the fact that for the first time in living memory their freedoms are in reverse. With cuts to child benefit, legal aid and job losses in the public sector women are losing out in a huge way.

In London this weekend the Southbank Centre is hosting the Women of the World Festival 2012. Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “’Throughout history, many women’s achievements have gone unnoticed or unsung. I created WOW – Women of the World Festival to celebrate the formidable power of women to make change happen, to remind us of our history, to draw attention to injustice, to enjoy each other’s company and to encourage men to add their support as we set out to achieve a fairer world. I was overwhelmed by the positive response to WOW in 2011 and am excited to build on this success with another great festival at Southbank Centre in 2012.” (For more of the festival see Harriets blog, it sounds awesome!)

Harriet goes onto say…

Despite promising to be “the most family-friendly government ever” the cuts are tailored to a model of a male breadwinner and a dependent female carer. Is it any surprise that these cuts have gone through so smoothly with only 21 of the 119 government ministers being women? Of the 113,000 local government workers who faced redundancy 73% were women; 77% of NHS workers set to lose their jobs are women and of the 710,000 public employees cut 65% were women. Not only are there the staggering job losses that have led to female unemployment being at a 25-year high, but women now also face cuts to legal aid. As qualifying rules tighten, half the women suffering domestic violence will lose legal aid. Wives facing divorce could stand to lose legal aid rendering them powerless to fight for custody of their children and sharing assets while husbands may afford lawyers.

Ghanimi says: “[The cuts] are inequitable, devastating and wholly unnecessary. Inequitable because women, the poorest and most vulnerable will suffer most. They are devastating because cuts to health, legal aid and welfare, for example, will leave the most vulnerable without the help and support they absolutely depend upon. They are unnecessary because there are alternatives such as a redistribution of wealth. Every year, for example, tax avoidance and evasion starves the British economy of an estimated £95 billion, probably more. It’s immoral for billionaires to pay less tax than people on ordinary incomes and yet this is routinely the case and positively encouraged. It’s no surprise then that the richest 1% have seen their income doubled since the 1970s in contrast to the rest of us. The Government is cutting tax inspectors, which says much about their priority on tax avoidance. Also, the rhetoric that the cuts being necessary to pay off the deficit seems increasingly absurd. Our deficit is actually increasing, not falling. The cuts are depressing our economy and the impact will be felt for a very long time.”

International Women’s Day this year has been more important than ever to draw women together and to raise awareness of what is actually happening to women in the current climate. The International Women’s Day website itself acknowledges the dangers of apathy: “The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy.”

It is up to women to be the change we want to see in the world, to stand up against the reversal of our freedoms and not let apathy take those rights away from us.

To get involved with Brighton & Hove Women Against the Cuts visit www.bhwac.wordpress.com or on Twitter @BrightonHoveWAC
For the rest of her insightful article about Britain for todays woman, click for her blog here

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Eve McDougall's sculpture

Girls Behind Bars: Female Experiences of Justice Together Our Space Gallery, London EC1V 9BE

An exhibition of artworks by current and former women prisoners is on show at the Together gallery in London’s Old Street. Mental health charity Together organised the exhibition with to share these women’s experiences of justice in conjunction with Eve McDougall, a former prisoner who served a two-year sentence in an adults prison in Scotland when she was 15 for breaking a window. Eve is one of the women in our women’s group GLADA Womens Voices.

It is a very powerful and thought provoking exhibition with some really brilliant pieces of work and has been a well attended exhibition throughout. It is highly recommended as worth seeing by numerous people and organisations – and we fully agree!

It is on until June 10th. See the link below to the Guardians coverage of the exhibition

Girls Behind Bars: Female Experiences of Justice Together Our Space Gallery, London EC1V 9BE

Starts 9 March Finish 10 June.

Further information and to see some of the brilliant works on show  click link

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