The 1970s

1970 Equal Pay Act, phased in over five years. Later amended (1984) to be equal pay for work of equal value.  

1970 First Women’s Liberation National Conference held at Ruskin College Oxford. The Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) was the first feminist movement to challenge the sexual division of labour, it’s key concept was the personal is political. There were many more national and regional conferences throughout the UK during the 1970s.

1970 Disruption of the Miss World Pageant in London.

1970 Publication of The Female Eunuch, key feminist text by Germaine Greer.

1971 First women’s refuge opened in Chiswick, West London. Women’s Aid Movement formed to give women a place of escape from domestic violence.

1971 Second disruption of the Miss World Pageantin London

1972 Launch of Spare Rib, first mass produced feminist paper.

1973 First black women’s group formed in Brixton, South London.

1973 Rape Crisis organisation set up in England and Wales. Rape Crisis Scotland set up a centre in Glasgow in 1976. UK National Abortion Campaign (NAC) founded to resist the ‘pro life’ movement’s attempts to overturn the Abortion Act.

1973  Virago Press formed to show case women’s writing, reprinted many feminist classics. Hidden from History, 300 years of Women’s oppression and the Fight against it, by Sheila Rowbotham was published. This book was very popular among feminists as it challenged the masculinist domination of History.

1974 First UK National Lesbian Conference in Canterbury. Working Women’s Charter formed to bring together socialist feminist activists and the labour movement.

1974  Women’s Centres now forming in many cities.

1975 The Sex Discrimination Act made it illegal for a woman to be treated less favourably than a man. Gradually women’s employment opportunities grew and women moved into traditionally male-dominated occupations such as train driver, bus driver, fire fighter and postal worker.

1976 Women working for Trico – a windscreen wiper factory in Brentford, West London – went on strike for equal pay. After 5 months management caved in and the women won.

1976 Women’s Aid refuges in Britain increased to 90.

1976 Asian women became organised. OWAAD – Organisation of Women of Asian and African Descent – was formed.

1976 The mostly asian female workforce at the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in Willsden, North West London went on strike for better working conditions and trade union membership. The labour movement initially supported the workforce – but when this support was withdrawn the strike failed.

1977 First Reclaim the Night demonstrations against violence against women (2 women a week were, and still are, being murdered by violent partners in the UK).

1978 Amrit Wilson writes Finding a voice, Asian Women in Britain. The first major attempt to document the lives of Asian women in Britain.

1979 Southall Black Sisters formed by asian women in West London. Leeds Revolutionary Feminists produce The Main Enemy which advocated lesbian feminist separatism. 

1979 Margaret Thatcher became the first woman prime minister of the UK.