Suffolk Women’s Network Launch

Next Sunday (13th Jan) sees the launch of Suffolk Voices in Stowmarket. This is a new network for women in Suffolk who care about what’s happening in the world and the impact the current ‘austerity drive’ is having on our lives – in particular on our children and families.

The tougher things get, the harder it can be to think that our actions can make a difference, and to wonder if there is any point.  And the harder it can be to find the time. But action does make a difference – there are plenty of examples of successful community campaigns or political campaigns which show us that: as I turned on my car radio one day recently, BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour was interviewing women who have got out there and campaigned – for varying reasons and in a range of circumstances – from seeking justice for the victims of Hillsborough to raising awareness of everyday sexism.

Anyone who is politically active – to a greater or lesser extent – may have experienced the current sense of ennui and mistrust with ‘things political’ when out in the market square,  on the doorstep, or even whilst watching the news.  But we need that to change – the current government appears to be  doing all it can to change family life, and the social landscape, for the worse.  Our services and the people who need them are suffering, and we can’t afford to let the government get away with it.  I believe that if we get out there with whatever time we have to offer and get active we can make a difference – whether that’s in obvious political formulations (and we do have a political system, so we do need to regain trust in it, but that’s for another blog post), via politically unaffiliated groups like 38Degrees, or by getting out there in our communities doing something which may seem very small but could make a big difference.  Every little does indeed help. One of the people on that Women’s Hour  episode – Rachel Owen – had started her campaign by walking into a newsagents and asking him not to display provocative tabloid images outside the shop at eye-level for young children.

Suffolk Voices is an attempt to make sure women’s voices are heard in Suffolk, and to provide a forum for women to find the solidarity and support to become more active. I’m not a radical feminist, but I do think that sometimes we have a different take on things than men, and also that existing forums aren’t always as ‘female-friendly’ as we (or indeed they) would like.  I really hope the network is a success.  To get things going, there are three speakers at this event who have a wealth of experience not just of campaigning but of the effects of ‘Austerity Britain’ on women and families here and now.  The idea is to hear the speakers, have some time for discussion and meet other like-minded people  over a ‘bring and share’ lunch. The network is being launched by Jane Basham, the Suffolk Labour PCC candidate who was very nearly elected to the post in October, and Sandra Gage, community and Labour activist from Ipswich. The launch of the network follows Jane’s tireless PCC campaign which got women talking across Suffolk about things that matter.

How will we know if the network is a success?  I’m sure that will come up in discussion next week, but meanwhile my first thoughts are that it is successful if it results in more people talking at the school gate about ‘austerity Britain’ and its effects on family life, a few women volunteering to do door-to-door deliveries of election handouts in their street, or even someone walking in to their local newsagent asking for provocative images of women  to be displayed inside, not outside the shop.



One response to this post.

  1. Just to update – the event was a huge success! Women from all over Suffolk came with energy, commitment and very tasty food! The network is well and truly launched!


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