Thank you to Unison for inviting me to join a fantastic Women History course. We are still fighting for equality. In 1830, 189 years ago, there was the first recorded complaint about equal pay in the textile industry. We watched “People’s century part 22 1970 – Half of the people” a highly recommended video. We take for granted the rights that women had to fight for. Some women seek basic education, some violence protection.

Below is a non exhaustive chronologic list of withdrawal of women’s powers. Some have been rectified. Some are still being fought for at large. It seems to follow a pattern. Do not give women education, jobs or decent pay. Remove rights and ideas from them.

Women had to endure all sorts of discrimination, abuse and we are still nowhere equal to the man. Indian women were killed, as family could not provide money. Cradley Heath chain makers – had babies AT WORK as they didn’t want to lose their jobs. Voting was only for over 30 y.o. From 1500s to 1750s middle class women’s education shifted from accounting, housekeeping and the classics, to accomplishments such as music, arts, etc.
Elizabeth Garreth Anderson wanted to be a doctor, the UK would not allow it. She went to France to learn French, and qualify as a doctor. They wouldn’t recognise her credentials in UK, so she opened a Women’s only hospital in 1872.

Caroline Norton: because of her family’s financial predicament, she was the victim of regular and vicious beatings. Her husband took their children to Scotland to escape the law, and she used her writing skills to influence the Infant Custody Bill of 1839 and Marriage and Divorce Act of 1857.

Emmeline Pankhurst, demonstrations with window smashing, arson of the suffragettes. When arrested, they were under hunger strike, resulting in violent force-feeding. The government passed the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act. Hunger striking prisoners were released until they grew strong again, then re-arrested.

Obsolete belief: You made your bed, you lie in it.


In the 1500s, women worked
Girls could marry as young as 12 y.o. Betrothals (formal engagement to be married, engagement) can be agreed for children aged 7, but marriage expected at puberty.
1653 marriage 16 y.o. for a man, 14 y.o. for a woman.
1660 marriage consent 14 y.o. man, 12 y.o. for bride.
1700 forbidding women from working and stupid marriage rules.
1803 ABORTION made illegal.
1832 voting paper changed from PERSON to MALE PERSON.
1840 Judge upholds a man’s right to lock up his wife and bear her in moderation.
1844 women and children banned from underground mining.
1857 Marriage and Divorce Act: expensive divorce becomes available. Men: based on wive’s adultery. Women: If a husband’s adultery is combined with incest, sodomy, cruelty, etc.
1861 Offence Against the Persons act. Abortion penalty: from execution to life imprisonment.
1861 Age of consent 12, carnal knowledge of a girl under 10 a felony, from 10-12 a misdemeanour.
1877 Bradlaugh-Besant trial for obscenity – publishing a book containing contraceptive advice.
1886 Match girls strike for better working conditions, they had deformed jaws, 200 walked out and spoke to Annie Besant who wrote about them.
1888 First equal pay motions to TUC.
Marriage bar: edge women out of employment unless under exceptional circumstances.
1920 Marriage bar introduced in civil service and teaching, 1932 in BBC.
1930 Post war peak divorce.
1970 woman was not allowed to be a bus driver and rent a flat by herself.


1870 Medical views on sexuality begin to replace religious views.
1872 Hospital for Women opened in London.
1874 Foundation of the London School of Medicine for Women.
1944 Women teachers marriage bar abolished.
1945 BBC and Civil Service marriage bar abolished.
1948 Women are admitted to ALL medical schools.
1953 Equal pay for teachers, civil servants and local government officers.
1960 Birth control pill becomes widely available. This means there is finally equality in sexual freedom. Women had a sexual liberation, you can plan your career with contraceptives.
1968 850 women sewing machinists strike for equal pay at Ford’s, Dagenham as they are underpaid by 20%.
1990s Europe expands from 15 to 27 European countries, freedom to travel, live and work.
1991 rape in marriage becomes illegal.
1995 Disability Discrimination Act.
1996 Employment Rights Act – right not to be dismissed on ground of being pregnant.
1997 Protection from Harassment Act.
1998 Human Rights Act.
1998 Working Time regulations – right to 4 weeks leave.
1999 Maternity and Paternity parental leave regulations.
2000 Freedom of information act – giving everyone the right to access information held by public authorities, subject to a few with exceptions – effective from 2005.
2002 Government signs up to European Charter, limit on working hours, improves maternity leave and working conditions for part and temporary workers.
2004 Civil Partnership Act – same sex couple.
2006 Employment Equality Regulations.
2006 Smoking ban.
2010 to present Universal credit, Bedroom Tax, Red tape challenge, Granny tax, Pasty tax, Universities £9000 charge, removal of education grants.
2010 Marriage legal – same sex couple.
2015 Angela Rayner became an MP by starting in the Union.


- Women were called to work on World War II. On their return, they were pushed back to their unpaid housework chores.
- Fired at 32 y.o. as too old to be an air hostess.
- Crane driver told no one would employ her, despite being able to do the job.
- Own father said to his daughter ‘You cannot be a pilot'.
- You were told you cannot lift 30 pounds.
- You could only be a phone operator, nothing else in 1949.


- There were 1/2 penny banks, affordable loans to women.
- You could be the doctor, not the nurse.
- You could be the senator, not the secretary.
- Other countries follow feminism after seeing other’s examples.


- Double birding, women work and clean.
- Some women having to hide contraceptive pills, to avoid being pregnant.
- Patronising marketing ads, with women being called the weaker sex.
- 2 women die of violence in UK. 173 a week in Russia.
- Every woman still doesn't feel safe, when she hears footsteps behind her in the night.
- Spinster word had a derogatory meaning: an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage.


- Africa, from 4-12 y.o. female circumcision, even grandmother says she will act on it, despite law forbidding it.
- In China they believe that having a boy means big happiness, having a girl means small happiness. Lots of Chinese girls went missing, as they were not wanted.
- Mexico fighting for pavements, basic services 1994.
- 1936 women’s veils off in Iran BUT, in 1979 after exile, he commanded veil back, and women did. They didn’t want to tempt men, but be the pearl in the shell. They think women should develop from inside.