Social Context / Legislation
• EQUAL PAY ACT is passed, specifying equal pay for equal work. Employers have five years to comply with the new legislation which does not go into effect until 1975.
• INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS BILL
~ NATIONAL WOMEN’S LIBERATION MOVEMENT CONFERENCE, February 27th – March 1st Oxford. Three hundred people are expected, six hundred arrive:
“It was really from the Oxford conference in February 1970 that a movement could be said to exist “. (Rowbotham 1972.
The April issue of Shrew reports on the press coverage of the Oxford conference. Misunderstanding, omissions and misrepresentation by the media will plague the movement throughout the decade:
“It is difficult to get a clear picture of what actually happened [at the Oxford Conference] when all available reports are inaccurate, interpretative and similarly biased [ … ] This emphasizes once again our need to develop our own channels of communication, and to establish our own credibility as a movement, so that people no longer look to establishment media for news about us.” (Tufnell Park Women’s Liberation Group, 1970: 4).
Organisations / Campaigns
• WERC (Campaign against discrimination in education).
• WOMEN’S NATIONAL CO-ORDINATING COMMITTEE (WNCC) is created at the Oxford conference. It meets again in Sheffield in June 1970 and adopts a Terms of Reference for its functioning. It is devised as a loose co ordinating body for the WLM, to which WLM groups can choose to affiliate. The WNCC consists of bi-monthly meetings to which each affiliated group is to send two voting delegates. Issues arise relating to the contrasts between women affiliated to Left groups, their goals and methods of organisation and the women from the ‘structureless’ groups created by localised consciousness raising:
“It was felt that the movement had already grown sufficiently to need a national structure in order to co ordinate the increasingly diverse activities of women’s groups around the country. Women in left groups saw this as an opportunity to influence the political development of the WLM and managed to dominate the national committee. This women’s national co ordinating committee formulated four demands which were adopted by the WLM […] however, the WNCC degenerated into sectarian squabbles between the different left factors represented and was disbanded by the Skegness WLM conference in 197l.” (Scarlet Women Collective 1977: 5)
• WOMEN IN MEDIA, London.
• WLM RALLY and march, London.
• Demonstrations/meetings against the harmful effects of the Industrial Relations Bill for women.
Bradford / Leeds
• A strike by Leeds women clothing workers occurs after the union accepts a low wage rise that discriminates against women. 20,000 women march from 45 factories (James 1976). This event was later made into the Play for Today film Leeds – United!
• Women’s groups are set up in Bradford, including a university Women’s group and another group which started in the university but spread to the city (Allen, OFT Interview No. 11).
External sites cited on this page:
~ The Equal Pay Act 1970, from the Women and Equality Unit (UK)
~ Feminists and Flourbombs (2002) – a Channel 4 documentary about the Miss World protests in 1970
~ Leeds United! (Film, 1974) – Internet Movie Database entry
~ Gertie Roche, Leeds Garment Worker’s Strike leader – bio
Additional external sites of interest:
~ Students of the University of Bristol (2003) Motivations behind the Miss World Protests 1969
~ Freeman, Jo (1970) The Tyranny of Structurelessness, from The Struggle Site
~ Heath, Edward (1970) British Conservative Party Election Manifesto
~ Industrial Relations Bill (1971) – Short film by Conrad Aitkinson, info from Tate Museum
~ Byrne, Paul* (1996) The Politics of the Women’s Movement. Parliamentary Affairs 49, pp 55-70
~ Fighting the Bill (1970) – Cinema Action documentary against the Industrial Relations Bill, info from British Film Institute Screenonline
* Athens or similar subscription may be required to view content in peer-reviewed journals
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