WAW International Conference & Annual Conference
Event Date:6th October - 7th October
Held at the Management School, Swansea Bay Campus, Swansea University in collaboration with the School of Management, the Department of History and the Morgan Academy, Swansea University.
This will be a special Conference to celebrate the centenary of (partially) winning the vote and the 20th anniversary of Women’s Archive Wales. Among our international speakers will be:
Dr Diane Atkinson, best-selling author of Rise up, Women. The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes (Bloomsbury, 2017) amongst other volumes, and former lecturer and curator, specialising in women’s history at the Museum of London.
Dr Margaret Ward, Feminist Historian and Visiting Fellow in the Department of History, Queen’s University, Belfast; author of the classical volume, Unmanageable Revolutionaries: Women and Irish Nationalism (1995) and the biography: Hanna Sheehy Skeffington: A Life (1997).
Sue John: Enterprise Development Manager and a member of the Senior Management Team at Glasgow Women’s Library
Merete Ipsen: Curator of Kvindemuseet i Danmark, Aarhus: one of the few museums of women’s history in the world, it specialises in gender issues, the body and sexuality.
Dr Helle Sigh: from Fregatten Jylland Museum, Denmark, an authority on women’s legal status and ‘space of action’ in the Danish and Nordic context.
Saturday evening: SUFFRAGE CONFERENCE DINNER – re-enacting the 1928 and 1998 WAW dinner in Swansea, with entertainment.
Please click on the links below for the full programme of talks and sessions and a conference poster. Note that if you are using an Ipad or mobile device, the documents will download automatically to your 'downloads' folder, and you will then need to save them.
Our conference provides a forum for anyone interested in women's history in Wales, whether academic or not, to present their work and receive feedback in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It is also an opportunity for members to network and socialise.
Post Conference Report
This event was certainly one of the highlights of the Century of Hope project. The Conference was organised in collaboration with the School of Management, the History Department and the Morgan Academy, Swansea University. We were very fortunate to be able to use the School of Management’s excellent facilities without charge. All the other services we received including the technician and the catering were of the highest order. Several exhibitions could be viewed during the Conference: West Glamorgan Archives provided a substantial exhibition on the suffrage movement in the locality and there were exhibitions based on projects run by AMC/WAW; e.g. the Women’s History Roadshow; the First World War and the Voices from the Factory Floor projects and the Peace movement banners.
Saturday had been allocated for the International Conference and Dr Aled Eirug, Deputy-Director of the Morgan Academy, welcomed everyone to Swansea University. This was followed by our Honorary President and Vice-President, Professor Deirdre Beddoe and Jenny Sabine welcoming the delegates on behalf of the Archive.
During the day we enjoyed a variety of talks by the following speakers:
Dr Diane Atkinson’s topic was ‘Rise Up Women: The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes’ and following this she signed copies of her book of the same name, provided by Cover to Cover bookshop.
Dr Merete Ipsen gave an inspirational talk about the Kvindemuseet, (Women’s Museum) in Aarhus, Denmark. She emphasised that the ‘museum’ focuses on women’s lives and work, democracy, equality and sexuality. Merete also outlined the suffrage campaign in Denmark - equal franchise was achieved in 1915.
Dr Margaret Ward, Honorary Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast presented the complex history of the suffrage movement in Ireland. She traced the origins of the movement before highlighting the period of militancy in 1912-14, against a background of the campaign for Home Rule, Unionist opposition, the First World War and the Easter Rising.
Sue John of Glasgow Women’s Library traced the early years of this venture, from an unfunded grass roots group into the internationally renowned museum, library and archive it is today. She presented GWL’s Core Values and how they have been vital in creating a museum that is grounded in social justice and equalities.
To conclude the day Dr Katharina Sarter, now of the University of South Wales, explored the development of gender roles, female employment and the role of the state as providers of child-care in France and Germany, and highlighted similarities and differences in their historical developments
Throughout Saturday a graffiti artist, RMER1, had been painting a huge image of the suffrage movement with dramatic banners calling for ‘Y Bleidlais i Fenywod’ and ‘Votes for Women’. This will remain at the School of Management as a permanent legacy of the Conference. There were also bookstalls provided by Cover to Cover, Honno, Jeff Townes and a AMC/WAW second-hand bookstall. A raffle was also held during the day.
In the evening 50 delegates attended the Great Suffrage Dinner at the Towers Hotel, emulating the dinners held in Swansea in 1928 to celebrate the granting of the vote to all men and women over 21 and the dinner of 1998 which celebrated the founding of AMC/WAW. The menu was suitably branded in purple with references to local Welsh suffrage leaders. Musical entertainment was provided by Professor Jen Wilson, founder of Jazz Heritage Wales. Jen’s talent was very greatly appreciated by all. Toasts were then offered to five of the delegates’ heroines. Dr Elin Jones chose to speak about Betty Rhys, bookshop owner and entrepreneur in Cardiff; Heather Pudner called upon us to toast Rose Barnes, campaigner for women’s refuges in Swansea; Gwyneth Roberts chose Jane Williams (Ysgafell) author and historian as her heroine; Jen Wilson introduced us to Jessie Donaldson, champion of anti-slavery and fittingly and movingly Ceinwen Statter reminded us that Dr Ursula Masson, one of the key founders of AMC/WAW should be our special heroine. The evening was drawn to a close to the dulcet tones of a suffrage group singing suffrage and Greenham songs, led by Caroline Fairclough.
On Sunday we were treated to a different presentation when the pupils of Terrace Road Primary School, Swansea, introduced us to their heroine - their former headmistress, suffragist Clara Neal. Years 3 and 4 pupils acted, sang and presented their story confidently and with conviction. Women4resources initiated this venture and Carol Shephard of ROSA Woman to woman devised the presentation, ably assisted by the teachers. The delegates gave the children a very warm reception.
The theme of the Sunday morning presentations was Women in Welsh history. In Lecture Theatre One Rosemary Seton traced the story of Rebecca – a Welsh migrant to Patagonia; sculptor Mandy Lane explained how she had re-imagined the early life of Amy Dillwyn, focusing upon her-story and gender. The film showed Mandy burning a wedding dress with molten iron. Georgina Gittins examined the suffrage movement in Wrexham, a history and area which has been woefully neglected by historians. After coffee, Meilyr Powel presented Alice Gray Jones (Ceridwen Peris) and her response to the First World War in the periodical she edited, Y Gymraes. This lecture was delivered in Welsh and Susan Roberts was the simultaneous translator. Mari James ended this session by describing in detail a visit made by Emmeline Pankhurst and her cortege to St David’s Cathedral in 1908.
During the first session in Lecture Theatre 2 Ceinwen Statter spoke about the remarkable achievements of Thora Silverthorne, a miner’s daughter from Abertillery, who was a nurse during the Spanish Civil War; Diana Morgan traced the fascinating history of Lizzie Charles, who became a missionary in Japan and Ena Niedergang explored links between Chinese women and Wales and Welsh women and China. In the following session Dr Alys Einion spoke about the remarkable everyday history of South Wales mothers, drawing upon her family’s experiences and this dovetailed well with Dr Chris Chapman’s paper on women’s experiences of marriage in post-war Rhondda, which also discussed pregnancy and respectability, the division of labour in the home, marriage breakdown, divorce and domestic abuse.
The morning and indeed the Conference concluded with a panel conversation led by Professor Trish Skinner on diverse women’s histories in Wales. All the speakers: Norena Shopland, Uzo Iwobi and Emma Cavell challenged the delegates to re-examine their interpretations of women’s history and spoke powerfully about their chosen fields of interest. This was a great ending to a very full weekend of debate and discussion.
The whole event was recorded by our film-makers Catrin Edwards and Tash Horton and photographer Anita Harris who went about their work professionally and unobtrusively.
The suffrage banner done by grafitti artist RMER1 during the conference