Events, Seminars

14th July: Lesser-known voices in well-known movements: from Suffrage to Women’s Liberation

Wednesday, 14th July 2021, 4pm (UK)

Lesser-known voices in well-known movements: from Suffrage to Women’s Liberation

Join us for this exciting double-bill on women’s activism in the twentieth century.



Jewish Campaigners in the British Women’s Suffrage Movement

Sophie Wilson, PhD Candidate, QMUL

Jewish women, and men, were actively involved in the British women’s suffrage movement and held some prominent positions within suffrage organisations. Many sought to maintain and even assert their Jewish identity, as exemplified by the foundation of the Jewish League for Woman’s Suffrage in 1912. While some key historians have sought to highlight the role of Jewish suffragist, their place within the suffrage thought has not yet been fully examined. The movement drew heavily on contemporary ideas of racial, imperial, and national superiority to present and promote a unified idea of womanhood, which was predominantly white, Christian, and British, or more often, specifically English. Therefore, the study of Jewish suffragists offers invaluable insight into how a minority group existed within a movement that promoted such identities. This paper will give an overview of the extent of Jewish involvement within the suffrage movement, considering the lived experience of Jewish suffragists, and indicate some of the wider questions this raises as to how the movement conceptualised Jews and Judaism. The study of Jewish campaigners, and suffragist responses, can offer new and valuable insight into the histories of suffrage, gender, religious and racial thought, and British Jews.

Image of Jewish League for Women's Suffrage pin badge
Jewish League for Women’s Suffrage Badge. Women’s Library at LSE.


Disabled Women Organising: Rethinking Agency within the Women’s Liberation Movement

Beckie Rutherford, PhD Candidate, University of Warwick

Disabled women have always been involved in feminism and women’s rights activism but only in the 1970s did they begin to organise specifically around their shared experience of disability and womanhood. The stories of their activism and campaigning are, however rarely included in historical narratives celebrating the Women’s Liberation Movement. The ways in which disabled women were involved in the movement often differ from stereotypical ideas of what ‘second wave’ feminism looked like – for example, many of their campaigns focussed on making existing feminist resources and spaces more accessible. This paper will introduce the work of three disabled women’s groups: Gemma (a support group for disabled lesbians), Sisters Against Disablement and Feminist Audio Books (both collectives of disabled women and non-disabled allies). I will argue that the work of the women involved in these groups is crucial to broadening our understanding of the many different forms that feminist activism could take during this period. By recognising the agency and innovation of disabled women’s organising, I advocate a wider and more creative understanding of activist histories in general.


Image of GEMMA leaflet
GEMMA Leaflet. Glasgow Women’s Library:

Register for your place on the Zoom webinar:

We do have a limit of 100 attendees, but you can also view the livestream of the seminar on the Women’s History Network Facebook page.

Find details of future seminars in the Spring-Summer series here

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