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Inequalities for women in the seventies and eighti


Barbara said “It’s hard to imagine now but there were such huge inequalities, huge differences in pay, even in the early eighties there weren’t that many women lawyers around. There was a Women’s Centre in Balsall Heath, a little terraced house, but one of the women who had some money, bought it, and it was basic things about basic legal rights and welfare benefits, and things like that that set me on the trail of thinking about doing law, and I thought, ‘I can do that’, but before feminism, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to think I could even start to do that, but so many women were not working or in low paid dead end jobs. Even nursing, Bridget was doing a grand job but paid an absolute pittance, it’s not great now but it’s a heck of a lot better than it was, and things like abortion were a huge issue a women’s right to choose, in spite of the 1967 Abortion Act, because it was still so trammelled round with what you could and couldn’t do, and there were constant bills coming before parliament, we were just looking through some old stuff yesterday, Corrie, Benyon, and although those weren’t issues that affected me as a lesbian, they were incredibly important for young women out there, and constant battles, it was an onslaught, and when you were open to thinking, ‘Why can’t I be treated as an equal like the bloke next door?’”. Bridget said “My father wouldn’t allow my mother to work, it was her role to stay at home, it was so demoralising, and women were abused on every level, financially, physically, domestically and by society generally. That’s why parts of the movement got into women against violence against women etc, there were these marches in Birmingham, (in the early to mid-eighties) and the police used to divert us of the main track into some industrial estate in Aston! You could feel the contempt of the woman PC marching next to you”.
Barbara said a lot of things that women take for granted weren’t then. Bridget said “I used to have clients that had no idea how much their husband earned, and were given housekeeping, weren’t allowed to open their own post. It’s no surprise that lesbians were at the forefront as we weren’t in that situation with men and mostly didn’t have children, some did and that’s another whole story, we had the freedom to stand up and be at the forefront of changing things”.

Contributed by: Barbara Carter, 53, Bridget Malin, 62

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