By Anita Klich, Gale Ambassador at Portsmouth University, UK
Women have been fighting for equality for decades; in the 1980s and ‘90s, there were many protests addressing the issue of inequality in the workplace and society overall. The Gale resource Archives of Sexuality & Gender provides students and scholars with documents to examine and critically assess issues concerning LGBTQ history and culture as well as Feminist movements, thus allowing academics to compare and determine how the situation has – or has not – changed over the years.
In 1972, the Women’s Industrial Union signalled the inequality between men and women in the workplace with a protest that highlighted issues such as the gender pay gap, discrimination in training opportunities and inappropriate treatment of female workers.
One year later, prior to International Women’s Day, The Times reported that women from all over the world gathered together to protest against the arrest of the ‘Three Marias’ – three Portuguese women arrested on charges concerning public decency and subversion of morals.
This action provoked a reaction from twenty-eight countries, including England, Italy and Sweden. Delegates from those countries attended the first International Feminist Planning Conference where they addressed the issue of the Portuguese authors, as well as equality in general. At the conference, the representatives distinguished fifteen main issues women were facing at that time, including stereotyping, poverty, health and welfare.
Later that year, over 200 women protested at the Museum of Natural History. The protestors were expressing their disapproval of the museum’s sexist labelling of exhibits and the insufficient research of lesbian history, as well as the lack of female anthropologists. This resulted in the hiring of one female anthropologist and another meeting on the issues raised at the protest.
Hundreds of other protests addressing the position of women in contemporary culture and industry have shown the need for a continued fight for equality. Despite the passing of time, women still must fight for equality and appropriate treatment of females around the world. The inauguration of Donald Trump for president of the United States in 2017 triggered a wave of protests; both men and women have been calling for equality and protection of women’s fundamental human rights.
In March 2017, thousands of women marched through London to call for an end to violence towards women. The participants, gathered for the 10th annual ‘Million Women Rise’ march, protested against rape and domestic abuse. The protestors were also manifesting the women’s right to free choice. The march aimed to raise awareness around the issues women and girls may face, and encourage them to report all kinds of abuse they might experience at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere.
The protests continued; on International Women’s Day, both men and women, including the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, expressed their disapproval of the sexist treatment of women and issues such as the gender pay gap which, regardless of the passing of time, are still relevant in society.