Here at Erewash Museum we thought it important to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) even though it came at an extremely busy time for us as we are preparing for Old Stables at Dalby House launch. Planning began a few months ago at a staff meeting and we came up with a few ideas and the project evolved and will continue evolving into 2017.
As Dalby House was a former residence we asked some of our volunteers to help research the important women associated with the building Erewash Museum occupies. We soon found out that although we have extensive files relating to the history of the building and its former residents, little is known about the women who lived at Dalby House, as traditionally the focus has always been on the importance of men with women hidden in the clearly defined gender roles of the past.
We did manage to piece some things together about the ‘Women of Dalby House’, which can be seen in a temporary display at the Museum. However we clearly need to spend more time digging deeper to reveal the lives these women lived in the shadow of men. This is something that we will continue to do and hopefully be able to build on for IWD next year.
Bringing the ‘Women of Dalby House’ project up to the present day, the permanent staff at Erewash Museum are all women and at present Erewash has a female Mayor, Councillor Val Custance. We were delighted when The Worshipful the Mayor of Erewash agreed to participate in our celebration of IWD and we asked her about her views of IWD and the changing roles of women. The following are quotes from an extensive response we received
Changing Roles of Women
‘In the past a woman lost her identity on marriage, she also lost her independent financial status having all her money taken over by the husband, to do with as he wished.’
‘At 18, just out of school and becoming a Civil Servant, it was noticeable that the male members of staff were always the ones promoted over the female members irrespective of ability.’
‘The pay scale for women, in general, was also lower than that of their male colleagues doing the same type of work. Although, in the Civil Service, pay was equal, the men got promoted quicker as I’ve previously stated.’
‘Nowadays, here in Britain at least, women enjoy equal rights and opportunities, but not always in practice. They still fall short of the ideal.’
Marking International Women’s Day
‘Yes I do think it’s important, all those pioneer women in our history who fought for recognition that we now accept as normal.’
‘It’s a great sense of achievement over male supremacy to which I fully endorse. I think I would have been a good Suffragette!’
Women from History
‘There were many women in history who stand out as positive role models, for example:- Elizabeth Fry, Caroline Norton, Florence Nightingale, Josephine Butler, Annie Besant, The Pankhursts, Jenny Lee and Daisy, Countess of Warwick, who between them fought for better conditions and rights for women on punishment, prostitution, birth control, women’s voting rights, art and the Open University and support for Trade Unions through the Labour Party, and lots of other serious issues affecting women. ‘
‘These women were examples of perseverance of Women’s Causes and Rights, against Government dogma.’
'But, the person who influenced me, more than anyone, was my grandmother. She was an amazing woman, always on hand to help her family and neighbours, be it a birth, laying out the dead or anything else that was needed. She was very astute and
encouraged me, along with my parents, to go for the best and achieve the top.
Because of her I found the stamina to push for what I wanted in life. I now, hopefully, have followed in her footsteps and encourage my grandchildren, and great grandchildren to aim high. They always come to me for advice or just a listening ear and a big hug. That’s what a grandmother is for.'
We would like to thank everyone one who was involved in the project including the Mayor, as it was a real team effort and we look forward to celebrating IWD 2017.
Our International Women's Day display is now on show in the museum.