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Feminist crisis resources

The ongoing pandemic crisis has exposed and exacerbated inequalities at an unprecedented level, on a global scale, for everyone to see. We have prepared an overview of reports on the different issues marginalised communities are facing here.

If you want to find out more about the impact of the crisis on women and other marginalised groups, you can read:

A selection of evidence on the impact of the pandemic on people with disabilities. 

#CharitySoWhite report and Civil Society article on the impact on BAME communities.

Reports on the impact on refugees and migrants.  

The Health Foundation’s report on the impact on heath inequalities.

The LGBT Foundation’s briefing on the impact on LGBTQ+ people.

Women’s Budget Group reports – including on the impact on women and the care sector. 

Women’s Resources Centre report on the impact on the women’s sector.

Other useful resources in this area:

A rich reading list on the topic of care put together by the people behind this year’s AtGender Caring in Uncaring Times conference.

Subscribe to our querterly newsletter to get more content like this directly into your inbox.

And subscribe to the Feminist Library’s mailing list to get more resources into your inbox and to hear about their new planned programme on feminism and care in the time of pandemic.

 

 

Feminist digital resources from FLA Network

Wondering how we could help in this time of crisis, we have collected some useful online resources, including feminist archives, libraries, museums, bookshops and more! There is a richness of online resources here with something to choose from for all book lovers. We have updated our directory with even more feminist libraries and archives around the country and beyond. Do check it out and don’t hesitate to let us know if you have anything to add. And please do use this quiet time to support your local independent bookstore or library if you can. Many might be closed for public health reasons, and in need of support to stay afloat during these trying times.   

Feminist libraries & archives campaigns you can support while you’re working from home:

  • Become a Friend of the Feminist Library – it helps us stay afloat and provide long-term security for our collections. The Library is independent and volunteer-run, which means sources of funding are not easy to come by and the best way to provide the Library with a sustainable source of income is by giving a small amount regularly (become a Friend).
  • Sign up to be a member of FLA if you haven’t yet – similarly, this helps us keep going as an independent organisation with very limited recourse to funds.
  • Donate to the any other Feminist archive or library on our directory.
  • Keep an eye out for other feminist spaces looking for support – like this amazing project; a feminist library in Armenia! Their crowdfunder is now closed, but they were in touch with us recently looking for some more support, so it might come back to life soon.
  • Order books from your local independent bookshop or a radical bookshop, especially during the crisis. If you’re hesitant about getting deliveries these days, why not try a special e-book offer from AK Press – with all AK e-books for just $1.99?

Our directory offers a one-stop shop access to directory of feminist libraries & archives around the country and beyond. We are a UK-based network, so our resources are similarly mostly UK-based, but we’re trying to connect with and provide information on international libraries and archives as well, as much as possible. Please let us know if you spot anything that’s missing from our directory.

Other resources that might be useful:

Looking for something to learn while you’re holed up at home? If you haven’t heard of it yet, Wiki’s Women in Red project is doing great work to add more gender balance to Wikipedia (and includes ‘how to’ tutorials in the resources section). Now might be the perfect time to help them out while learning some new skills.

Many other spaces, groups and independent educators have moved their courses, events and meetings online since the crisis has escalated, and there is a wealth of online resources to choose from here too. How about a virtual poetry workshop on pay what you can basis? Or join and contribute to a new zine online? Feeling down? How about some mindfulness to help you deal with the stress?

FLA Network needs your help!

The FLA Network has been working under strain for the past few years, with very limited capacity and resources. We need your help to keep the network going! Get involved! Come to our November meeting, lend a hand – even if just to brainstorm some ideas on how to improve our network!

The meeting will be 2nd November, from 12 noon, at the Feminist Library. Contact magda@feministlibrary.co.uk to find out more and rsvp.

Support the crowdfunding campaign for the first brick & mortar Vagina Museum

The Vagina Museum has been a campaign, a pop up museum and an awesome educational project for a few years now. But recently they have been in negotiations to secure a potential permanent venue for its museum – and in the heart Camden! Now they just need financial support to make it happen!

They need to raise £130,000 to make it a reality, which might not be a small ask, but it will be THE FIRST vagina museum in the world, so we think it’s worth it, and we hope that you will too! You can support the campaign here.

You can read more about the Vagina Museum on their website here.

 

The Feminist Library has successfully crowdfunded its new home!

Having resided in the same home, in Elephant & Castle, London, for the past 33 years, the Feminist Library is now having to relocate, due to planned redevelopment of the current building. They are in conversations about securing a new home with the local Council and have successfully completed its big crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to be able to afford to move at the end of Women’s History Month 2019.

The Feminist Library has been on a mission of saving women’s histories for over 43 years now and is one of the most incredible resources on the topic in the UK. With over 7,000 books, 1,500 periodicals, and countless items of ephemera and archives, it remains faithful to its original mission, and accepts all donations of feminist materials that come its way, to ensure that no herstories get lost for generations to come.

Despite years of struggle against eviction, unsustainable rent increases and gentrification, the Library remains independent and autonomous resource, in an effort to keep accessibility at its core. It’s almost totally volunteer-run.

With the help of over 1,000 supporters, the Library has now closed its crowdfunding campaign, having raised all the money needed to move it and to refurbish its new home to make it ready for a library.

However, the job is far from done. It is a big job to move a library, and so they will also need all the help that they can get with sorting out their collections before the move too. If you’re interested in volunteering to help out with that, please get in touch with Katie, the Library’s volunteers coordinator, volunteer@feministlibrary.co.uk.

Read more about the campaign and how you can support here:

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-feminist-library-build-its-new-home

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First preliminary designs for the new Feminist Library space in Peckham

The Feminist Library also needs ongoing funding to keep going – to help with covering their running costs. If you’re interested in supporting the Library with a small (or large!) regular donation, you can sign up to be a Friend here.

FLA presentations at Feminism in London 2014 conference

Jalna Hanmer, Feminist Archive North

As women why is it relevant to know the past? Why is knowing the current moment not enough? Early in the wave of feminism that began in 1969 women began to understand how the loss of knowledge of earlier women’s struggles and demands is a major way of securing the social and personal subordination of women. Not for nothing is standard history about the thoughts and exploits of men. People without a past remain the onlookers in the history of the socially dominant and, at best, honorary members of the privileged caste, group or class. It is not an accident that women did and do not know their past. People without a past do not have a future.
These ideas led to women collecting, preserving and making available to other women a map, a guide, for future generations of women so that women who did not share a particular moment in time may have access to it. Early materials turned out on duplicators, often indistinct or blurred, and circulated to small numbers through women-only publications, were major sources of women’s concerns and activism and remain so for the future. Because political activists utilised multi-media, there are songs, photographs, posters, films, banners, t-shirts, badges as well as a multiplicity of forms of written work.
In the future these multi-media source data will be needed for women to be able to assess the development of ideas, actions and times in which we lived and live. To keep alive knowledge of women’s struggles with each other and with men; their efforts to understand and organise against oppression and exploitation means passing on our herstory from woman to woman, from mother to daughter, through the generations. There are reoccurring patterns of high and low mobilisation of women to resist and transform their social situations in countries around the world. If we had full access to this knowledge, our heritage, think how empowered our social and collective identity would be.
The libraries and archives collecting information on women will enable women to discover, if it is not possible to maintain conscious continuity, of a feminist past. With few exceptions these libraries and archives are poorly funded or unfunded and depend upon the commitment of women to donate to, maintain and to use them. Libraries and archives now exist in different regions of the U.K. making accessibility easier. But there is no guarantee for the future. This depends upon women’s vigilance, determination and understanding of their relevance to the present and the future.
To secure this future depends on us to leave as complete an account as possible so that women who come later may make their own judgements, building on our past and present work and achievements just as we have built on those of women who came before us. Taking ourselves seriously is to recognise and value a diverse heritage of our own making and to act to preserve it for future generations of women. This is the task women’s libraries and archives have set themselves to achieve. We hope you will look at our websites, contact us for information, come to see the collections, donate material and offer to help to maintain and develop current libraries and archives. We all have a contribution to make.

Zaimal Azad, Nottingham Women’s Centre

You’ve already heard about why it is so important to preserve our history and how this in itself is a political act in a world where women and women’s work is constantly erased. I am going to carry on from there and talk about FLA – the umbrella under which this workshop is being delivered, and what role this network has to play in protecting the feminism of the past and ensuring its continuity.

The story of FLA begins about a year ago from a conversation between some of us at an event where we got talking about the many practicalities, and the joys and frustrations of running feminist libraries and archives. As different as our libraries are – from proper buildings and large collections like Glasgow and London to university affiliated special collections like FAN and FAS, to our small but very special library at Nottingham Women’s Centre – they also have many many things in common. And the most important thing they have in common is that they all exist and survive due to sheer passion and force of will. Most of these feminist and women’s libraries and archives have no funding, hardly (if any) staff and very little resources. They exist because of the love, care and dedication of the women who created them, the women who run them, and the women who use them. And just by existing, they make a political statement.

It is this shared love and passion which is the basis of FLA.

We met for an initial gathering of feminist libraries and archives in Nottingham in February of this year – it was meant to be a weekend of knowledge sharing and discussion, of learning from each other and celebrating what we do. It was at this weekend that we realised exactly how important it is that we come together – important for our individual libraries and archives, important for ourselves as custodians of these and important for the feminist movement as a whole.

And so – FLA was created! It was created because together we are so much stronger as we realised over that weekend in February and then more recently last month when we had visitors from as far away as Japan who shared some amazing stories with us. It was things like being in a room full of people who understood exactly why the Dewey Decimal System doesn’t work for feminist libraries (it’s the patriarchy, if you are wondering!), people who were as excited as you about cataloguing systems and classification instead of giving you odd looks. Along with these more practical aspects of our collections, it was also deeper discussions about the diversity of our collections, about who is represented when we talk about our history, about the relationships between our libraries and local activism.

We came together and talked about all this and more and realised that there is so much to be gained from doing this more often, communicating more regularly, and working more closely.

There are many different projects dotted around the country, big and small, archiving and preserving feminist history. There are also many that have had to close down because of the lack of support. But how many people know about them? How many of you have been to a feminist library or archive? Have you visited the WLMA website? Spent an evening getting lost in the treasures of the feminist library here in London?

As with all other campaigns at the moment, we need to join the dots and create a bigger picture. And this is why there is such an urgent need for FLA. This network will give a platform to feminist and women centric libraries, archives and collections. It will act as a resource and improve access to our projects – an online directory of libraries and archives where you can find one near you. It will provide a hub for those of us who work within these or in related fields – a place for us to come together and support each other specially when the going gets tough. It has already done so over the past year. And perhaps most importantly, it will enable us to fight much harder and more effectively to save them.

Our libraries and archives hold the victories, the struggles, the mistakes of our past and the keys to our future. They are places of knowledge, of rebellion and of self discovery. They help validate our feminism, they provide inspiration, they remind us of what has been achieved and also of how far we still have to go. This is why I ask that you support FLA. This network is for feminist and women’s libraries all over the country (and beyond) and all those interested in them. It is also for those libraries and archives which may not necessarily be feminist or women focused but have dimensions of these – for example the Black Cultural Archive or anarchist libraries. It is for everyone who has an interest in preserving women’s and feminist history, whether affiliated with a library and archive or not. Anyone can get involved and all kind of support counts. So what can you do?

Check out our website. Spread the word about us and tell the people you know. Join our mailing list. Come to our events. And most importantly – visit (or start!) a feminist/women’s library or archive near you. Engage with it. Bring your feminist events and campaigns into these spaces or take elements of these spaces to your events and campaigns. Get in touch with us – we are waiting to be discovered. Visiting a feminist library changed my life and took it into a completely different direction. It might do the same for you.