Amidst the centenary celebrations of the Representation of the People Act, which allowed women the right to vote, #pressforprogress has been announced as the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. Newcastle is taking this one step further, with the Knicker Revolution event set to promote pants for progress.
This campaign called for women of all shapes and sizes to donate their underwear, which will be creatively transformed into knicker-bunting.
On International Women’s Day, the 8th March, the bunting shall adorn a Newcastle landmark, presenting a public challenge to the perceptions of ‘socially acceptable’ gendered behaviour and dress.
Since the Suffragette movements of the early twentieth century, Newcastle has been at the forefront of women’s campaigning
Julia Triston, a local textile artist, conceived the idea, and is among many others who have been organising and contributing to an array of campaign events. By encouraging public participation and providing a creative and bold element to the protest, the aim is to undermine everyday sexual harassment and demonstrate female solidarity.
This will be running alongside many other events organised by The Women’s 100, who have come together to celebrate and continue the work of the early Newcastle suffragettes, bringing attention to local feminist histories and the trajectory of women’s movements.
Other organisations involved in this series of events include Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council, Northumbria University, TWAM, Newcastle CVS and Newcastle Libraries.
“Progress for equality for all, progress for ending violence against women, girls and other vulnerable people”
Karen Ross, Professor of Gender and Media at Newcastle University
Since the Suffragette movements of the early twentieth century, Newcastle has been at the forefront of women’s campaigning.
It was one of only four cities in the United Kingdom to organise a SlutWalk in 2011 to protest against victim blaming culture.
The exhibition “Women, Politics and Voice in Newcastle” shall showcase the long and illustrious history of local women’s voices, and make a case for why this work should be continued. This took place in the Long Gallery of the Hatton from 5th to 9th February.
According to the International Women’s Day website, #pressforprogress is more necessary than ever: the recent Hollywood film industry scandal has thrown gender inequality in the workplace into the public light, and the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report concluded that gender parity is over 200 years away.
As part of the bid to bring equality forward, Knicker Revolution is particularly dependent on the donations from Newcastle women. Collection boxes were distributed across the city and Newcastle University Campus, and participants were encouraged to write their names and a message to accompany their underwear donations.
In addition to providing underwear bunting, new knickers and gently worn bras were collected for SmallForAll, a charity which redistributes underwear to women and children in Africa.
Karen Ross, Professor of Gender and Media and part of Newcastle University’s Women’s Committee, outlines the mission behind #pressforprogress: “Progress for equality for all, progress for ending violence against women, girls and other vulnerable people.”