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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Royal Holloway Feminism Society stand in solidarity with The Women's Library

'all the oppressed of this earth
whose dynamism and strength is stolen
for exploitation by others
and who fly when they break their chains'

The Women's Library is currently under threat, we urge feminists to rise up against this attack on women's cultural heritage: women have been hidden from history for too long. The Library provides a unique source of inspiration for women– charting decades of rebellious feminists, campaigning on issues from the vote to wages for housework. Women’s history is already marginalised, despite documenting over half the populations history. It deserves to be protected.

One of Royal Holloway's most famous students was Emily Wilding Davison, who died as a martyr to the suffrage cause attempting to display her votes for women banner on the king’s horse. Her return ticket for that day is still in the Women’s Library collection. Each of the 70,000 items holds a story. Her funeral was the only occasion Royal Holloway students were allowed at a London Suffrage outing. The Women’s Library links all our history.

In ‘A Room of one’s own’ Virginia Woolf wrote that, “Women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” The women’s library has created a space to encourage women’s genius, and equally record it, reclaiming the anonymous women of the past. It is a space for not only for privileged women but also the marginalised; all ethnicities, all classes, all sexualities – it is an inclusive home for everyone, enabling equal access to the exploration of identity and a sense of history. This provocation comes as part of a wider attack on women's services and represents the governments complete disregard of women, threatening to render its rich resources inaccessible. Such a reduction of service will decrease widening participation that London Met strives towards. The Library functions as not only an academic source but one that is part of local community in a largely deprived area; it acts as a cultural hub.

Royal Holloway and New Bedford College, was created in 1985 when Bedford College joined with Royal Holloway College to form a new institution within the University of London. There was once Suffrage Library, run by staff and students at Bedford, and Royal Holloway was given suffrage material to potentially start our own, the library no longer exists and the collection has been eroded. Royal Holloway Feminism Society stands in solidarity with the Women's Library in its time of threat. We believe the history of our rebellious feminist forbearers must be protected. We urge you to consider our message.

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