Categorized | Issues

What is left for feminist activists to fight for?

We thought you’d be interested in a recent letter to the Guardian from one of our members, Val Millman, which was in response to a question about whether there is anything left for feminists to fight against.  Here’s what Val writes: 

‘I was delighted to read that feminism is finding its voice again (24.07.10). The (mostly) young feminists who have been building up this new profile in recent years should be congratulated for their courage and perseverance

But there seems to be some debate as to where feminist activists should now focus their energies. I suggest that obvious priorities are presenting themselves on a daily basis as the new coalition government reveals its proposals for cutting most areas of public spending. Already voluntary organisations, supposedly the cornerstone of the Big Society, are having their funding withdrawn by local councils. A number of these are small organisations who, over many years, have successfully translated feminist ideas into a range of highly skilled, carefully targeted, practical provision for local women.  

 Let me take one example. I was recently talking to my niece who is undertaking a dissertation on domestic violence at a Midlands city university. She has been contacting local organisations who provide advice and

support. These include:  three refuges for ‘victims’ of domestic violence and a support service for those who wish to remain in their own homes; a number of counselling services which provide specialist support to a range of ‘minority’ groups and offer expertise across different sorts of domestic violence; a rape crisis and abuse centre; a service to help individuals collect visual evidence of abuse; a service to offer support to children and young people. In addition, there are now specialist personnel in many publicly funded services such as the police, the courts, education, and adult and children’s services.

 In following my niece’s researches, I have been struck by her assumption that this provision, although far from perfect, is forever embedded in the local infrastructure.   My memories go back to the early 1980s when none of this was in place and we battled to gain council funding to establish a rape crisis centre in the city. It was from such small beginnings that heightened awareness of domestic violence grew and eventually became an identified responsibility of publicly accountable local services. This is but one example of effective local provision that took many years to establish but could be dismantled with immediate effect. Surely such provision must be a major focus for feminist activists, now. . ‘

 Do you agree with Val?  Can you suggest any other areas to which feminist activism could be directed?

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One Response to “What is left for feminist activists to fight for?”

  1. fin says:

    I’m in total agreement. The worries for those who work in local community initiatives in the UK, are that in calling for the’Big Society’ and the roll back of the state that non-statutory services ( refuges, meals on wheels, rape crisis lines, pretty much all youth services), can be scrapped.
    The piecemeal commissioning arrangements will leave unglamorous services either inadequately funded or cut entirely.
    The vol sector agencies who have provided such services (cheaply) in the past have had funds already cut. In the interim profit making companies can cherrypick an already ravaged service.
    Thus if we want funding to continue to refuges, domestic violence projects, youth services then now is the time to get active…

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Gender and Education Association

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