I am writing to whole heartedly express my support for the project Women’s Words on Manchester.
As lead member for women at Manchester City Council in 2014 I had an idea for an initiative to redress the historic lack of recognition for the written words of women. The idea was simple, a permanent collection of women’s writing held at Manchester City Library that would ensure that women’s voices were celebrated and accessible for generations to come.
I grew up wondering where the women authors were – yes we had Austen and the Brontës’ – but overwhelmingly the experiences, dreams, imaginings and lives of women seemed to be absent or told to us by men. Down the years this is slowly changing, women authors today are prominent and popular – incredibly 15 of the top 25 fiction bestsellers at Waterstones today are women. But historically it seemed women’s writing was a sideshow.
The barriers that face women, both authors and those in public and private life are still immense and something that we must continue to fight against. The stubborn and fierce inequality and prejudice that women face today may be subtler than those of our ancestors but it is still very much present. Women are more likely to be in poverty, paid less, hit that infamous glass ceiling, suffer sexual abuse, do the lion’s share of childcare and housework (whether in full time work or not) which all leads to too many women never reaching their potential. Why do we not hear the voices of these women?
The Pankhurst Centre and Manchester Library have taken my original vision and turned it into something so extraordinary, so exciting, so much bigger and more inclusive than I could have ever imagined.
To reach into communities and give women the space, time and confidence to write – a simple act of creativity, of imagining, of exploring – is a gift and one that historically many women have been denied or deemed unworthy of indulging in.
The communities that will benefit, the future writers we will discover, the women who will develop a passion for writing and the friendships that will be forged through creative collaboration, is I believe art at its most potent.
To then collate these stories for future generations, to read, learn from and be inspired by will be stimulating and motivational for generations of women and the huge historic importance of this cannot be underestimated.
Councillor Josephine Teubler