Women Demand

The Women Demand web site is part of a larger project that seeks to re-assess the work and the legacies of the 1970s for women now. Inspired by the Seven Demands of the Women's Liberation Movement, these pages present demands generated at the Feminist Seventies Conference and its aftermath, as well as contributions motivated by the pamphlet Saying What We Want: Women's Demands in the Feminist Seventies and Now.

In the pamphlet, the seven demands of the Women's Liberation Movement are used as a spring-board to think about the political purpose and value of demanding, of 'saying what we want'. Zoe Fairbairns shows how far we have come in making real many of the original seven demands of the WLM. It is, as Helen Graham suggests, 'not enough', but it is a great deal, and an achievment that came of concentrated political and collective activity.

This Women Demand web site offers a collective representation of the demands of individual women. In both the text-based pages and, in particular, on the playful pages, individual wants and dreams are presented as a whole. This isn't a facile representation. By developing the demands into a broader picture - both artistically and politically - we demonstrate the power of articulating demands as part of an active process. Many of the demands displayed here are linked to information or campaigns, making the site anything but passive. It is our hope that the pages will be used as both a site for 'saying what we want' and as a place where women can find out about collective action, and continue to make the words and the dreams come true for all of us.

extracts from the pamphlet:

The Feminist Seventies Conference held at the University of York in April 2002 established the legacies of the WLM as central to today's feminism. [...] The process of remembering the 70s feminist past - its successes and its solidarity - inspired, for me particularly, a feeling of excitement at what feminism could achieve and how we would approach the ever more subtle gender inequalities within women's lives now. [...] We use 'the past' to envision a movement towards 'the future'.
Ali Neilson Saying What We Want, p5-6.

Before you can say what you want, you have to know what that is. You have to think about it, discuss it, agree on it. You have to ask yourself what, in specific terms, is standing between the way things are now and the way you would like them to be. Is it a law, a tradition, an economic structure or system (local, national, global or domestic), an ideology, a personal grievance, all or none of the above? Is it bigger than that, or smaller? You donít necessarily have to have all the answers, but you have to know what you think, you have to be specific, and you have to prioritise. You have to risk unpopularity by saying, 'this, not that' or 'this now, that later' .
ZoŽ Fairbairns, Saying What We Want, p10.

The challenge for women today is to decide what we want to change and how that change can be enacted. The modest and utterly optimistic aims of our Women Demand website are to make connections between our individual demands, to enable collective recognition and to publicize links to available information. Our website assumes that it is useful for dreams, desires and demands to be initially formed but that they will also be challenged and re-worked through collective actions of debate, demonstration or direct action.
Helen Graham Saying What We Want, p27.

The Seven Demands as finalised at the National Womenís Liberation Conference held in Birmingham in 1978.

The women's liberation movement asserts a woman's right to define her own sexuality, and demands:

  1. Equal pay for equal work
  2. Equal education and job oportunities
  3. Free contraception
  4. Free 24-hour community-controlled childcare
  5. Legal and financial independence for women
  6. An end to discrimination against lesbians
  7. Freedom for all women from intimidation by the threat or use of male violence. An end to the laws, assumptions and institutions which perpetuate male dominance and men's agression towards women