Social Context / Legislation
• The Labour government National Plan:
“Saw a rise in Women’s employment as the answer to labour shortages. Further immigration was a politically unacceptable alternative. By 1967 the Confederation of British Industry were writing that women should not be prejudiced against in employment.” (Big Flame Women’s Commission 1976)
• ABORTION ACT 1967 passed: A woman can now get an abortion if continuing the pregnancy would involve a greater risk to her life, to her physical or mental health, or to her existing children; the child would most likely be born seriously handicapped; the abortion is carried out within the first 28 weeks of pregnancy; or the woman’s environment, or foreseeable environment makes the pregnancy impossible. This last condition is the ‘social clause’ which gives many women access to abortion.
• HOMOSEXUAL LAW REFORM ACT (Sexual Offences Act 1967) This act makes homosexual acts between consenting adults legal in private, in England, Scotland and Wales. This makes the start of Gay Liberation possible and is very important to lesbians and the WLM despite the fact that lesbian acts had never been subject to criminal laws as such in the UK.
• The government opens homeless family accommodation to husbands for the first time:
“Battered women lost their refuges and remained without until Women’sAid began [in 1974].” (Hanmer 1976)
Organisations / Campaigns
• MOTHERS IN ACTION forms in London in 1967.
• KING HILL HOSTEL CAMPAIGN, London, against the government’s decision to open homeless family accommodation to husbands (see below).
• THE NATIONAL JOINT ACTION COMMITTEE ON WOMEN’S EQUAL RIGHTS, a trade union organisation for equal pay and rights, forms out of the Ford strike. They organise a demonstration in May 1969.
• Women’s rights groups formed in Hull, around the campaigns by fishermen’s wives for safety improvements on fishing boats:
“Out of this opposition and the connections it had also for left middle class women, came the equal rights group in Hull. Though the working class women drifted off, it continued as a group and later organised a meeting for all the sixth-formers in the town on Women’s liberation.” (Rowbotham 1972: 92)
• OPEN DOOR COUNCIL – An umbrella organisation with an emphasis on women’s right to work and equal pay, in existence from 1918 -1965.
• SIX POINT GROUP – Begun in 1921, this group had an agenda of ‘six points of equality’ for women, hence the name. From the late 60s until their dissolution in 1983, they were active in co-ordinating other women’s groups on issues of social, economic and political equality.
External sites cited on this page:
~ Sagall, Sabby (2000) Struggles of the Past: The Car Warriors, from Socialist Review, No. 243 (on the Ford strike)
~ A Brief history of Women’s Aid
~ The Women’s Library holdings for the SixPoint Group and the Open Door Council, from the London-area archives listings at AIM 25
~ Full wording of the 1967 Abortion Act from Education for Choice
Additional external sites of interest:
~ Hamilton, Angus (nd) Crime and the Lesbian and Gay Client (on the legal ramifications of the SOA 1967)
~ Students of the University of Bristol (2003) – On The Abortion Act 1967
~ Renn,Margaret (2004) We went into the workplaces to build for demo. Socialist Worker, Issue 1924 (about fighting subsequent amendments to the Abortion Act)
*Athens or similar subscription may be required to view content in peer-reviewed journals Feminist Archive North accepts no responsibility for content on external sites