East End Women’s Museum and Eastside Community Heritage win National Lottery support for women’s workplace rights project in Barking & Dagenham

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The East End Women’s Museum in partnership with Eastside Community Heritage has received £80,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exciting new project, Working For Equality, which will run in Barking & Dagenham from April to November 2018.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project focuses on 50 critical years in the struggle for working women’s rights in Britain, 1918 to 1968.

Beginning with suffragette equal pay campaigns during the First World War and ending with the Ford Dagenham sewing machinist’s strike that inspired the Equal Pay Act, women factory workers are at the heart of the story.

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A woman’s place

In 1918 many wartime ‘munitionettes’ found themselves pushed out of ‘men’s jobs’ when the War ended. There is a pattern in this 50 year window: women factory workers were hailed as heroic in wartime, but in peacetime met intense pressure from politicians, employers, and union leaders to go ‘back to the home’.

Women workers routinely faced sexual harassment and discrimination, were expected to resign or were dismissed when they got married or became pregnant, and were paid half a man’s wages to boot. Women of colour often faced additional challenges and discrimination, whether through a formal ‘colour bar’ or casual racism.

Despite this, factory work offered successive generations of young working class women freedom and camaraderie, as well as opportunities to organise for better pay and conditions.

About our project

Our project will explore changing ideas about the ‘proper place’ for a woman and celebrate the economic, cultural, and political contribution of women factory workers.

With the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund we will create a mobile exhibition, put on a range of accessible public events, run workshops with local schools, and collect oral histories from women in the area. Volunteers from the local area will help to shape the exhibition and receive training in oral history, archive research, or heritage interpretation skills.

About us

The East End Women’s Museum is a public history project aiming to record, share, and celebrate women’s stories and voices from east London’s history. The project was established in 2015 in response to the 'Jack the Ripper Museum', as a positive, sustainable protest.

Eastside Community Heritage was established in 1993 as part of the Stratford City Challenge community history project and became an independent charity in 1997. Over the years, Eastside have worked with over 900 community groups, produced over 100 exhibitions, and created the East London Peoples Archive which contains over 3500 oral histories.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the Heritage Lottery Fund invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow HLF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported.

For further information about the project please contact Sarah Jackson at the East End Women’s Museum.