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Celebrating 100 years of Inspiring Women in South Gloucestershire for International Women’s Day 2019

South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), the Aerospace Bristol museum and Southern Brooks Community Partnership (SBCP) teamed up to host a workshop on Friday 1 March to engage young people from South Gloucestershire in the history of women’s rights and to share inspiring local women’s stories.

The workshop engaged young people from four local schools: Digitech Studio School, Bradley Stoke Community School, Patchway Community School and Winterbourne Academy. Aerospace Bristol hosted the all-day session and UWE Bristol’s Regional History Centre (RHC) provided historical consultancy and support.

During the workshop 100 young people explored how women’s rights have changed since the First World War and met some of the inspiring local women who were nominated for the exhibition. The young people then worked to develop exhibition pieces which reflected their reactions to the session and displayed their experiences as young women today in South Gloucestershire.

Katherine Martin, Learning Officer at Aerospace Bristol, said: “Aerospace Bristol aims to inspire young people in our region through the stories and achievements of local people. We were delighted to be involved in the organisation and hosting the sessions for local schoolchildren and were very impressed by the work they created and the experiences they shared.”

These exhibition pieces were displayed on International Women’s Day at the University of the West of England’s Exhibition and Conference Centre. Influential decision makers from around South Gloucestershire were invited to attend the event to hear from the young women and learn about the inspiring women from the exhibition.

On the 8th March, young people from the four schools were able to view their exhibition pieces and were then given a presentation by UWE Ambassadors who shared their experiences of applying for and studying at UWE. They then heard inspiring talks by June Harrington, (Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, UWE), June Hanham, Professor Emeritus, Modern British History, UWE) and Aaliyah Hussain (Inspiring Women nominee and Founder of WeRise). They then took part in a workshop ‘What do we want the future to look like for women in South Gloucestershire?’

Professor Jane Harrington, Deputy Vice Chancellor & Provost at UWE Bristol said: “I was really delighted to be asked to be involved with this event as part of International Women’s Day. It is really important for young women to learn about inspiring women from the region in which they live. These women act as role models for them, help them to understand how anything is possible and to imagine a future where they inspire others. Learning about how life has changed for women over the last 100 years and reflecting on your own experiences is really powerful and I hope that they all leave the event inspired and determined to be inspiring in their futures.”

Caroline Browne, project coordinator at Southern Brooks Community Partnerships, said: “Through our International Women’s Day event we want to amplify the voice of local young women, giving them a chance to be inspired by the past, and share their aspirations for the future.”

Cllr Erica Williams, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Public Health at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “Our Inspiring Women exhibition has been travelling across venues in South Gloucestershire and has been very well received at every location. It’s important that we share these powerful stories and help to enthuse our inspirational women of tomorrow.

“It was a pleasure to attend the workshop and hear the young people’s personal thoughts and reactions to the history of women’s rights, and to see them create fantastic new exhibition pieces of their own.”