Forty Voices, Forty Years


2018 – 2019

Heritage Lottery Fund

Research team
Lead Investigator: Dr Emily Underwood-Lee , Project Associate: Catrin James.

External Partners
Welsh Women’s Aid

The project will gather information, memories, successes, and materials across the 40 years of the Welsh Women’s Aid movement, from its beginnings as a collection of grassroots women’s organisations created out of the Women’s Liberation Movement of the early 1970s, to the present day.

The heritage this project will focus on includes:

1) Identifying the women instrumental in the development of a feminist social and political agenda in Wales, who gave women in Wales safety, support and a voice, exposing from behind closed doors the 'hidden’ social problem of domestic abuse, and simultaneously framing it as a fundamental cause and consequence of women’s inequality.

2) Reviewing the key historical moments relating to Welsh Women’s Aid and the wider movement. We acknowledge that the diversity of women’s identities and life experiences (women of different ethnicities, sexualities, social class, ages, and abilities) and are often marginalised or omitted from the wider reporting of feminist history and capturing these intersectional experiences is a priority.

3) Gathering the memories of activists, survivors, and refuge workers, involved in the movement and their reflections on past successes and future challenges and sharing these as accessible digital stories via a tour of Welsh community spaces, both formal (e.g. museums, educational establishments), and informal (libraries, community centres and virtual online spaces.

4) Capturing for archive the oral histories of women as catalysts of change at various points in the 40 year history of Welsh Women’s Aid from thefounding year in 1978 to present day.

5) Collating for archive and a final event and exhibition, the physical documents and artefacts (reports, key policy and legislative papers, newsletters, leaflets, newspaper articles, books, banners, badges, t-shirts, campaign information, fundraising materials, photographs, and other objects) which demonstrate the journey of the movement and the activists and organisations involved over the past 40 years.

Anticipated outcomes

  • An touring exhibition showcasing artefacts and stories
  • At least forty stories will be recorded and archived with the National Library of Wales
  • An archive of objects associated with the Women’s Movement will be created
  • An academic paper
  • A project report

Anticipated impact

  • The heritage of women in Wales, the violence against women movement, and Welsh Women’s Aid will be better interpreted, explained, identified and recorded.
  • People will have developed new skills in heritage conservation, digital storytelling, oral history collection, engaging with community groups, and the history of the Women’s Movement.
  • Future policy and practice will be informed by the project.

For more information contact: Emily Underwood-Lee.