From Equal Pay to #MeToo: Women’s Activism in Portsmouth

A new project investigating the history of women’s activism in Portsmouth is looking for volunteers and launches this Saturday 20th October.

Dr Sue Bruley, Dr Laurel Forster and Dr Terese Jonsson at the University of Portsmouth have won funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to record the history of 50 of the city’s ‘unsung and inspiring women’s community activists’.

The project is now looking for volunteers of all ages to get involved in recording women’s history in Portsmouth. There are many ways to take part, from writing website content, sharing your stories or finding out about curatorial skills. The project launches this Saturday at the University of Portsmouth, and a full breakdown of the day is available below.

Key topics for the project to focus on include: the fight for equal pay, maternity pay, struggles against sexual harassment and issues connected with women in the naval community in Portsmouth. Research will also focus on the local women’s aid movement to combat domestic violence and provide refuge for women and children, anti-racist activism and the campaign for new housing.

The project aims ‘to document the activism of women from a diverse range of backgrounds’, including looking through the lens of class, race and sexuality. Photographs, digital stories and audio clips will be digitally preserved and transferred to the Portsmouth History Centre collections where it will be publicly accessible via the catalogue.

But it’s not all about the past, as the project leaders hope to bring many contemporary debates into focus as volunteers and the team get to work over the course of one year. At the end of the research, the findings will be shared, including 50 recorded oral histories, video stories, a website, booklet, student learning pack, and a mobile exhibition.

‘The impact of feminist movements in Britain since the 1960s has been enormous,’ said Dr Sue Bruley.

‘This is an essential part of our post war social and cultural history. We need to record these changes for women and society at a local level. This is particularly so in Portsmouth with its distinct naval heritage. The Time’s Up and #MeToo movements have made us all aware that there is still much work to be done. By recording the recent history of women’s activism in the city it will help us to link the past to the present and address issues of gender inequality in the city today.’

The project continues the work of the Women’s Activism in Portsmouth group (WAP), which has been active locally since 2015.

Launch event:

WHEN: Saturday, October 20th, 10.00-15.00

WHERE: Seminar room 2, University of Portsmouth Library to find more about the project and how you can get involved.


10 – 10.30:  Informal meet and cuppa

10.30 – 11: Find out more about the project from Lead, Sue Bruley

11 – 11.30: Find out about the many exciting opportunities to get involved, with Project Co-ordinator, Anna Cole

11.30 – 12: Q & A

12 – 13: Lunch & informal discussion time

13 – 15: Optional Introductory training session: learn how to conduct an oral history interview

Free Event, but bookings are required.

For more information and to register your interest contact:

Anna Cole , Project Co-ordinator. Phone: 0239284 6121/07943764631

Sue Turner, Project Assistant: 023984 6156