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Redefining the Essex Girl: The inspirational stories

Category: Gender Focus

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Essex women are not what you might think they are. The women of the south-eastern county have a reputation that goes before them but a new project, “Snapping the Stiletto,” is using history and storytelling to change that.

The two-year programme by Essex County Council is exploring the Essex Girls stereotype through exhibitions and events at 12 galleries and museums. Each of these is intended to throw new light on how the lives of Essex women have changed this century. And the impact and purpose local women have had on positive change and social good.

It’s already bringing forward inspirational stories and mysteries to be solved. In particular, researchers are currently searching for information about a mystery suffragette whose picture is held in a local collection. The women, from Southend, is holding a Votes for Women poster and may have been an influential activist but her name and achievements have been lost since the picture was taken. Do you know who she is? Contact the team here.

The project team have also found images showing women supporting an early mother and baby clinic set up by Adelaide Hawken in 1915. This groundbreaking facility set the stage for better support for families, mirroring the SureStart centres we use today. This early push to better welfare for families was led by Ms. Hawken, provided essential support and aimed to reduce mortalities amongst mothers and babies to offer essential support and reduce mortalities amongst mothers and babies. Learn more about her here.

The “Snapping the Stiletto” programme has been made possible by a £95,445 grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. It’s kicking off this year as part of the 2018 centenary of the first British women getting the vote and the 50th anniversary of the Dagenham Ford Workers’ Strike.

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