UCL Research


More than the right to vote: feminism and citizenship

Transcript from the More than the right to vote: feminism and citizenship event on 17 February 2022, 4:30 pm–5:30 pm.

Joyce Harper, Ann Phoenix, Victoria Showunmi, Sasha Roseneil

Sasha Roseneil  00:07

Good afternoon and welcome. My name is Sasha Roseneil, and I'm UCL's Pro Provost equity and inclusion, and Dean of the Faculty of Social historical sciences. But it's my great pleasure to be your host today for this panel discussion, more than the right to vote feminism and citizenship. I get to do some really interesting things in my job. But one of the most entertaining so far has been spending some time with hope the Lego suffragette down in the UCL Student Centre earlier this week, having my photo taken and look at the exhibitions about feminist campaigns over the decades, from UCL library special collections that are gathered around hope. For the next three weeks until the seventh March, the day before International Women's Day, the UCL Student Centre is hosting hope, a life sized Lego figure of a suffragette hope was built from 32,327 individual Lego bricks, and she's an amazing creation, I do recommend you go along to the Student Centre to have a look if you can, perhaps take a selfie with them. How it came into being, I can't quite bring myself to say it was born in 2018, which was the 100th anniversary of the 1918 representation of the people act, which one suffrage by granting the vote to women over the age of 30, who met a property qualification that was at the same time as giving the vote to all men with or without property aged over 21 Hope we'll be on tour around the UK for the 10 years between that anniversary and the 2028 centenary of the 2019 28 representation of the people equal franchise Act, which finally gave equal voting rights to all women and men over the age of 21 in the UK, removing the profoundly discriminatory property qualification and the different voting ages for women and men. Hope has been loaned to organisations around the UK to generate debate and facilitate discussions about women's equality. During her time at UCL through a series of activities, and the hashtag stand with hope campaign. We're aiming to inspire reflection on the history of the suffrage movement, as well as creating a space for conversations and hearing untold stories about gender inequality at UCL and beyond. So Hope represents the long struggle for women's suffrage, which was finally won on equal terms in 1928. But I want to draw attention at the outset to the fact that hope has been created and named a suffragette, not a suffragist the suffragettes were the more radical campaigners for votes for women, members of the women's social and political union, which was a women only organisation founded by Emily and Pankhurst, which engaged in direct action and civil disobedience. The term was originally coined as a term of abuse by journalists in the Daily Mail, a diminutive of the word suffragists, which was in common use at the time that the feminist activists embraced the label rather as lesbians, gay men and trans people chose in the 1990s, to take up the abusive word queer, and make it their own. The winning of the right to vote was the result of decades long campaign involving a wide range of actions from those undertaken by suffragists more moderate suffragists, writing pamphlets gathering names on petitions, holding 1000s of local meetings all over the country. Through public street protests in the form of marches and rallies to more Millicent tactics has included women chaining themselves to railings, committing criminal damage to shops and letter boxes and attempting to storm parliament. Over the years suffragettes were regularly imprisoned, and many went on hunger strike and was sometimes violently force fed. It was a hard struggle that often involve considerable suffering. Yes, it was a struggle that was built on hope, a positive, forward looking emotional commitment, a belief in the possibility of full membership of society for women, I believe in the possibility of creating a better, more equal world in which women would be able to realise their talents and live their lives autonomously, according to their own determination, in which women will be able to shape the future of society according to their own priorities and values. But the right to vote didn't grant women fully equal access to political decision making to shape the world as they might wish. And women remained very significantly underrepresented in politics around the world. Despite significant changes over recent decades. There are currently 220 Women MPs in the House of Commons 34% And that's an all time high. In the House of Lords. The second chamber women are 28% of members. Numbers are higher in the devolved assemblies up to 47% in the Welsh parliament, 36% in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and about 36% of local authority councillors in England are women. So we're still a long way from parity and political systems. For women, but political citizenship is only one dimension of citizenship. In research that I carried out with a group of feminist scholars from around Europe, the femme sit project feminism and citizenship project, we argued for an understanding of citizenship as a multi dimensional encompassing not just the terrain of politics, but also including economic, social, intimate, sexual, reproductive, religious and cultural dimensions of citizenship. In this, we were Building on the insights and arguments of second wave feminism that understood the personal is political, and the broad issues of embodiment, reproduction, sexuality and intimate relationships and their gender inequalities to the fore. We're also always concerned to pay attention to differences between women within the category of woman and to the multiple ways in which women are marginalised and minoritized, by race, ethnicity, religion, through the ways they live, their gender and sexual identities and their intimate lives. So building on these new ways of thinking about citizenship beyond just the sphere of the political, this panel is bringing together colleagues from different parts of UCL from different disciplinary backgrounds, to think together about feminism and citizenship, and to reflect on the unfinished business of securing full membership of society, and its institutions for all women. Our speakers today are, first of all professor and Phoenix, Professor of Psychosocial Studies in the Social Research Institute in the UCL Institute of Education. Then we'll hear from Professor Joyce Harper, Director of Education in the UCL Institute for Women's Health. And then from Victoria shoni, associate professor in the education practice and society department in the UCL Institute of Education. You might also have come to hear Dr. Sylvia SUTA. Unfortunately, I can't say unfortunately, because it's really good thing is she's just had a baby. And so she can't be with us here today. But I'm sure she's here with us in spirit, and she said she would listen to the recording later on. So I'm going to hand over now to each of the speakers in turn, to hear from them about standing with hope, about the unfinished business of securing citizenship for all women to talk from their own experience and their own research about, about this moment of rethinking citizenship and suffrage through these this amazing Lego suffragette. Ann over to you.


Ann Phoenix  07:34

Okay, thank you very much. That was a lovely introduction setter. And one of the things that it really helps us to understand is that there there was such differences between women, even at the point of claiming citizenship through the vote, whether there was suffragettes or suffragists, and that women had to struggle and continue to struggle. And one of the things that you also made clear, was that, of course, when the vote was granted, it differentiated women further. So one of the things I want to talk about is intersectionality, a term that was only coined in 1989, but has certainly been relevant. And the work around thinking intersectionally has been common for a very long time. Because what it does is to point to the fact that in the categories that we all belong to, that we're all differentiated within the same category, because we belong to other categories. So everybody is always multi positioned. And what that means is that white women and black women working class, middle class women are all different, as well as linked in the category woman. And because we have multiple positions, that there are commonalities, and we have to think about the right to belong, as being contingent, we have to think about claims to citizenship as being fractured, and having commonalities across women as well as being having differences to do with for example, racialization, to do with class to do with sexuality, and so on. So we have to think about belongings in complicated ways. And women's suffrage marked a new beginning for women's struggles. It also meant that we need to think about temporary alliances, because there are very good reasons why, for example, all women might stand together to get the vote, and to get the age at suffrage lowered once it was first granted, but also the very act of giving the vote only to some women, those with property or husbands with property fractures, alliances, so we need to Think about the alliances that we want to make. And it also means that we need to think about the psychosocial that we need to think about what it means for people to belong to be granted some rights or not. It's not just that it's material. But that, as you said, Sasha, that there are different forms of citizenship. So those all carry emotions, as well as psychological notions and material notions. It also means that the past haunts the present. So the histories of how women, for example, have been treated the histories of their differences, or haunt the past, ontology matters, that that Daraja word, so that what we are carrying with us in the present, even if we don't know it, has an impact as well. And what I just like to point out a few issues that show differences in belonging, and one I'd like to think about is the Windrush and the fact that in 2018, Amelia gentlemen, who's a Guardian journalist, helped us to see just how the politics of belonging something that that near you, Val Davis writes about, really had fractured at many people who thought that they were just British citizens like everybody else, so that black people from the Caribbean suddenly found that if they did not have access to their migration papers, that they could be deported from Britain. And this was an intersectional struggle. It's not just all black people could be deported. Those who have their passports could not be, but it also showed how contingent was the belonging but belonging was about politics. And it also shows that the right to suffrage to citizenship to the vote is very much contingent, and across generations as well. It's not that it's one once and for all, and that everything is then okay, but that it matters, so that black citizens, British citizens were evicted, if they were unable to demonstrate citizenship, having the citizenship was not enough. And even though that Windrush generation, those who migrated to Britain between 1948 and 1971, are part of the national mythology, they were there, for example, represented in the British Olympics, and so on. So the politics of of Belonging Matters, so to does acts of citizenship, Sasha, you very nicely separated out all the different forms of citizenship, we might think about not just political, but I like ngin Eisenerz notion that citizenship is also about acts is what you do, it's what you claim. And I want to give perhaps, a surprising example, which is Jack Monroe, who is a non binary person, often writing about food, and pop food, poverty, and publishing recipes and so on. But who in ninth in 2017, I was really, really touched by and proud of, when, on her website, she had an article, we need to talk about Diane Abbott now. And the reason that she did was pointing out that Diane Abbott was the MP who got most hate mail posted on the internet and elsewhere, and every day, so very much and yet continue to stand up for constituents and for things that are right. And she says that she's doing this with love as a mother, a disabled person, a former Food Bank user, as well as being someone who is is non binary. The point about that is intersectionality shows us how we can be together, working for the same things, despite not apparently being in the same categories. But also that what Jack Monroe was doing ahead of many people talking about women who, who gets so much hate mail, or black people get so much hate mail when they are members of parliament is showing that claims to citizenship can move outside one's apparent boundaries, the boundaries of our own belonging and be contingent, be collaborative, be a form alliances and so on and that those are claims to citizenship not just for ourselves, but for others too. Another example I want to give is Jen Reed who in Bristol, after Colston, who, who was a slaveholder after his statute had been toppled In a Black Lives Matter demonstration, stood on the plinth and raised her fist. Now, that's a really symbolic act of citizenship. She was later made into a statue that was briefly up on that plinth. But the fact that she did that is a claim to citizenship in itself. It's an act of citizenship. And there are many ways in which many women have produced acts of citizenship in recent years that have been crucial for all of us. If you think about Laura Bates, and and the way that she has got all of us to think about everyday sexism, not that we didn't think about it before, Caroline criado Perez and the way she looks at how online women and offline women's and men's bodies are treated differently and men's bodies are taken as the standard to the detriment of women in health to the detriment of women online, where they're not recognised so much, and so on. Think about Sophia noble, on algorithms of oppression showing how algorithms racialized in a way that's racist, or some Asara when she was an English student at UCL, who set up everyone's invited, where everybody can write about their sex, their experiences of sexual harassment. And so all of those are acts of citizenship. And I want to finish by thinking about hope, because we're here, partly to think about hope, and celebrate hope coming to UCL and what it symbolises to have these 32,000 pieces of Lego built together. And I want to think about theorising of hope. Hope is very much something that is future oriented, but rooted in the past, there's less back suggests, so that it is that we're haunted by the past, but we wouldn't hope if we didn't want to make claims to citizenship into the future if we didn't have a vision that we wanted to achieve. So it's impossible without imagination. It's impossible without having narratives making untold stories into told stories, which for example, Black Lives Matter has helped us to do which feminism in itself through popularising consciousness raising really helped us to see and that that that was second wave feminism, crucial for that, but also hope as collective and collaborative work. And as Hassan harsh, says, We need not just to think about politics of redistribution and recognition, but co hoping and and what what is meant by that is thinking about hope, as being something that is is that we share with other people, we don't hope, other people's expense, but we think collaboratively about what it means to hope. And I hope in this conversation, that we can think some more about how hope is interlinked with intersectional inequalities, how it's potentially contradictory, but that if we co hope, if we really have developed future visions together, it can be enormously helpful.

Sasha Roseneil  18:16

Thank you. Thank you very much, and the countering so many acts of citizenship, small and large, that many of us have heard about, and it's really good to be reminded of, and I particularly love the notion of CO hoping, and maybe that is part of what we're doing today. Our next speaker is Joyce, so much Sasha.

Joyce Harper  18:39

So it's a real pleasure to be speaking to you today. And I'm going to give you a very different angle. So I want to talk to you about how assisted reproductive technology, which mainly involves in vitro fertilisation, or IVF, for short, can influence reproductive citizenship. And I've been working in this field for over 30 years. After I finished my PhD, I became a clinical embryologist in one of the UK busiest IVF unit. So I was the person in the lab that dealt with the eggs and the sperm and the embryos. So I've seen how this field has developed over that time. And I'm very aware of what we might have developed in the next 30 years. Now IVF and fertility treatment has helped millions of women have children, including myself, I actually have three IVF children and fertility treatments is considered a highly controversial area among amongst feminist activist and scholars. On the one hand, it helps infertile women get pregnant, but on the other hand, it can be considered a potential threat to female reproductive autonomy, as it has been considered to work against the interests of women. radical feminists emphasise the control of women's reproductive roles by men as they feel at the fertility field has been male dominated. And historically, women's narratives have not been considered, we have to realise that not all women want to become a mother. And we we found in the latest data that's just come out from the Office of National Statistics that 18% of women pass their reproductive age in the UK on are not mothers. But motherhood has led to the role which decides to be a science to when being a mother. Pregnancy is the one thing that a woman can do that a man can't. But whether we're trying to get pregnant or avoid a pregnancy, we need to consider a woman's fertile years. And there's two key parts of a woman's fertility, which is her eggs and her womb. So what I want to do is talk about both briefly talk about what the technology can offer us now, and where this might go in the future. Now, the egg is really pivotal to female fertility. It's the quality and quantity of the quality of the egg that will determine whether a woman will get pregnant or not, or certainly the main factor. But unfortunately, women have a fertility lifespan. So from puberty to menopause, our fertility decreases were most fertile in our adolescence. And by the time we're in our 40s were infertile. And this is not the case for men, the majority of men will stay fertile from puberty till the day they die. And this fertility, as I've said, is mainly due to the quality and quantity of our eggs. And so we have the technology now of egg freezing. So this is a new technology that's been around now for about 15 years, that gives women the option to put our eggs on hold when they're younger and more fertile. So we could get pregnant when we're later in years, maybe past our natural fertility. So is it the answer? Well, it is a very expensive technique. It's no guarantee of having a baby. But I want to point out one thing to you, which I think really is relevant to today's conversation. And this is the regulations that we have in the UK. So men can freeze their sperm. And the majority of men that are freezing their sperm are men who have already had their children. And they're considering undergoing and protecting me. So they're freezing their sperm as a backup in case they changed their minds. The UK government decided that men who freeze their sperm for this reason can freeze it for up to 55 years. But women who freeze their eggs because they most women are freezing their eggs in the UK on ready to become a parent, but they haven't got a partner or haven't got a willing partner. So they can't actually get pregnant naturally. So that's why most women are freezing their eggs, but the UK Government decided we can only freeze our eggs for 10 years. So this is something that we've been fighting for, for about 10 years, we do hope that now it's finally going to get changed this year. But why? Why were women who are in a very different situation to men given a 10 year time limit. So we've already had some women that had frozen their eggs and had to discard them because their time limit was up. And it really worries me where we're going with egg freezing. There's there's egg freezing parties, there's lots of glamorous ways that they are marketing egg freezing to a basically fertile population. And I run something called the International fertility education initiative. And we're trying to prevent people ending up in the fertility unit. But with egg freezing, we're pushing a fertile population to medicalize their reproduction. And it really does give me cause for concern. I feel very uncomfortable that we are already seeing certainly in the US were at graduation, we're pushing women to the to the fertility unit to have their eggs frozen. And I don't think that's the way we should be going. And in the future. Well, what's bubbling under is the potential to make eggs from stem cells. And if this did happen, it would certainly allow women to be free of our restrictive reproductive years. But are these technologies empowerment or exploitation. And I wanted to talk about the womb. So we have a womb men don't have a womb we carry the baby. But what we're finding now is a growing number of celebrities who are using a surrogate carry their baby because they do not want to carry it themselves. And it really gives you the feel of The Handmaid's Tale and it makes me feel again, very uncomfortable and bubbling under in the future. Well, people are looking at making an artificial womb. So how will we feel if we take away our contribution to making a baby? Some women feel that this is a woman's source of power, I really feel that we would be entering a brave new world, again is this empowerment or exploitation? But today, it's about hope. And I wanted to finish with some thoughts about hope. I want to stress that actually the embryology field that I started working in back in 1987 is incredibly female dominated. Well worldwide the vast media jority of embryologist are female. I have been to conferences where over 90% of the audience have been women. So we have a huge imbalance there the opposite way to some other areas. And indeed, I ran several I used to run several masters masters courses in our Institute for Women's Health. And we find that we have very few men, just a handful of men every year, coming on to our MSc programmes that are all related to women's health and reproductive science. One year, we actually had no men at all, we've been doing a lot of work on that. We, I must admit that we haven't had a huge number of clinicians involved in fertility treatment. Being women, it has improved since the 80s. For sure, it was certainly a very male dominated clinical field. But now we have seen some IVF units in the in the UK that are directed by women. And there's certainly been an increase in female gynaecologists. And lastly, I'm really pleased that there is now a growing body of research, including my own, who are listening to women's voices about how they want us to look after their fertile years. So I think we do have hope. But I think there's lots of conversations here around reproductive citizenship, that we really need to debate and think very carefully of where the future takes us. I am a little nervous of how we will have children in the future. Thank you very much.

Sasha Roseneil  26:34

Thank you very much Joyce for some very challenging ideas there and pushing the boundaries in thinking about citizenship to think about, about reproductive citizenship and, and about questions of autonomy and agency that I think been so crucial around feminist struggles, in relation to citizenship. Thank you. Victoria, over to you next. Thank you very much.

Victoria Showunmi  26:58

So thank you for listening, you know, when I'm thinking about Joyce, and Ann what you've just said, and also you, Sasha as well. So I'm really going to speak about a kind of collection of things really. So I've said, you know, looking back and looking forward, and unfinished business from, you know, securing for membership and belonging to society and its institutions for all women. That was the title, which we were kind of working with. And so looking back and looking forward to the concept of identity, gender, race, and class lies in the heart of my research, I focus on the experience of black women and girls at school, college, and also the workplace. Looking at the perspectives of black women, I would still argue that they're still struggling to achieve the same knights, as white women. There's a lot of unfinished business for black women. I'm going to come on to the types of things which form part of the discussion that women are excluded from white feminist space is a constant struggle to get their voices heard. They're not considered sufficiently feminine. If you're part of or engage with social media, whether that's Instagram, tik, Tok, Facebook, Twitter, any of those, you will see that this exclusion of feminist space white feminist space, where young black women, young black girls have developed their own aspect of feminism, where they feel that they don't need to have the struggle. They're also not considered sufficiently feminine, whether it's to do with, the way they look physiology, or whether it's the way they actually are and the way that attributes are. And that in itself, has got a conversation and it's to explore. The scene is too loud, not assertive, but aggressive. So you're really grappling with various stereotypes, and that can come from white women, and other women of colour, and also other sexes as well, who buy into these different stereotypes. They therefore focus on their appearance, in an effort to be accepted, for example, their hair. Now many of you would have seen and heard about the long term conversations about hair and how it should be or shouldn't be within school, or the workplace or within society and what that means. The notion of not being able to secure for membership of society is real to black women. It's an emotional burden and assault of stress and racial trauma. Since 1992, data collected on gender was broken down according to race, and gender, yet, we have to ask ourselves, why is it that we are still struggling to gather sufficient data on the experiences of black women, we still have those conversations. Well, you know, it's not quite enough, we can't, the numbers are too small, to be able to get a representation, to be able to have action to what needs to be done. A recent example in in the in the fingers, his fingers on pregnancy and complications and child mortality. Mental Health figures are also difficult to access. Hidden Figures for black women is something which we're starting to call it really. Then the research gender itself, there's more to be done. It's just not their research on black women, and black girls. There is some there, but not enough. And we need to do more to be able to understand what is going on unfinished business on health, employment recognition, and acceptance, of course, a recent report, which came out from the NHS, just this week, which was kind of hidden, but as emerged

Victoria Showunmi  31:32

is very, very stark in itself. And looking at the findings on how people are being treated within the NHS, across all of those things I've just mentioned, facing the concrete ceiling, not even the glass ceiling is something again, that black women face as an additional challenge in the workplace. Let's move on to something else, which many women will feel that we've you know, we can celebrate in some ways, which is the gender pay gap? Well, that is a celebration for some women. But if we look at the gender pay gap, and we then consider women of colour, particularly black women, black women, along with women, which are Bangladesh, are at the bottom of the pay gap. Now you ask yourself, why is that? Well, of course, you've got the gender pay gap, which people associate with white women. And then you've got the ethnic pay gap, which cause is then looking at particular black men, or other men or Indian men, men from other Asian backgrounds. And so the battle for black women, is you fall down the crack itself. And so you don't fit either way, and your wages are at the bottom. A couple of more things before I actually complete finish. I smiled when and mentioned them dynamic, because one of the points I was going to raise here, which is, you know, the different forms of citizenship, and what that means as well. And belonging is really context specific, I would say as well, whether that's to do with education, and how one positions themselves as a young person in an educational space, and how they belong. And that is a real discussion of still discussion point, or the workplace. And Diane Abbott came to my mind about that as well as she has been in as a MP for what, 2829 years. And even so, she is still that person, which is demonised for what she's actually who she actually stands for, as a person. Couple more points, really, on average, black women are paid 63%, less of a white male, that's a huge amount. And on average, it could take 19 months to be paid more than average white man takes in 12 months home in 12 months, that's even worse than the national earnings ratio for all women. So what is hopeful? What is actual hopeful? I mean, when we think of this, even having the conversation is a reason for hope. Just having that conversation, the critical conversation, and what that means, perhaps, but it's difficult conversation for black women. And it's difficult for them to feel that hope is on its way when there's so many things stacked up against them. So when I stood next to hope yesterday, and and thought about so what does this mean? When I'm standing next to hope, who appears to be more of a western concept of hope? It didn't seem to be something which was white, or black. I still stand and I say Wednesday I rise, because even though I've given you a kind of a stark aspects of various statistics and comments about black women, and some about black girls, we still rise. And we still are moving forward. So we look back and look move forward to things ahead. We do what we can, because we're always looking ahead. So I'll stop there. And hopefully that adds to the conversation.

Sasha Roseneil  35:37

Thank you very much, Victoria, I think you have really enabled us to reflect on the whole question of agency, and what it means to have to have a figure from history. In our, in our midst, in the in the Student Centre, who's speaking of or taking us back to a particular moment in history, when actually there is so much still to be done to achieve the vision that there was there for the suffragettes of full equality for women. You know, we are nowhere near that. And I think you've really pointed to that very clearly. I was really, I was struck, actually, in all the talks by the kind of reflection on the extent to which the agency that the suffragettes were exerting in the world, the kind of claims they were making for space in the public sphere, for a place for women to speak out, and to be represented in politics. How, in many ways that has been achieved. I mean, we're here talking publicly about all these issues. And and we have, you know, feminism has fundamentally changed the terms of the debate over the last 100 years. And that there are new issues on the agenda that weren't being talked about by the suffrage movement 100 years ago. But, but there is much still to be done. And if I wonder if some of those, those suffragettes were here today, what they would think about where we are now, whether they would recognise the inequalities that that everyone's been speaking of is actually one that yeah, they knew they were there, or whether they didn't. There's a number of questions coming up in the chat. And I would ask anyone who wants to ask a question of our panellists to please post them in the chat. I'm going to I'm going to take take some of them and put them to you all. our panellists. First one is from Nina. And she says, Thanks for the really interesting presentations. And given the points made about the need for more representation of women in political debate, in different spheres of citizenship, what would you suggest would be the way to approach improving diversity of the policy landscape? And I think you could answer this from your own different perspectives. You know, whether it's about, you know, black, black women in education, for instance, Victoria, about the policy landscape in relation to reproduction, Joyce, and any any thoughts you might have, from your perspective? So we, we were improving the representation of women, but it's been slow, and it's still not at 50%? We're still not at parity. Given that what what can be done to make policy making more representative of women's interests? Any thoughts about that?

Ann Phoenix  38:45

Thank you, I think it's a really interesting question, because in order for there to be more representation of women, generally in the political sphere, we need representation at all levels of society. So if we think of society, as always psychosocial as well as our lives is always psychosocial, nested within the huge political are the institutions to which we belong, and our everyday lives, whatever those consist of. And therefore, it should be that in in every institution, we make claims to representation in more equal ways. So I think that there is no point simply fighting to get, for example, more women, or more black women or Asian women into the House of Commons, without actually thinking about what that means for the everyday lives of people because, of course, an intersectional view, let's receive that. Simply having women in parliament doesn't mean that particular agenda followed. It depends who they are, and what their commitments are. So I think that it has to be simultaneously at different levels if we're going to have representation. So we need to be thinking about this at UCL as I know, various people are, as well as in schools, as well as thinking about households. And you know, how lives are lived in the different forms of households, and different forms of families that people live and thinking about equality there. So the point that I'd like to make is that claims to citizenship are important, it is important to continue to fight for equality, it's at whatever level it will matters a great deal.

Sasha Roseneil  40:42

Yeah, I think I would agree. I mean, that's why we were really interested in the fence it project in the different dimensions of citizenship. So, you know, we started from the point of view that political citizenship was important, but it was by no means going to deliver full equality, for membership of society for women, and especially for women and all their diversity, and that we need to tackle questions of inequality and intimate sistership, the recognition of different forms of intimate life, for instance, we needed to tackle economic citizenship and women's exclusion from being able to earn earn enough money to live on as an independent person in the world. We need to think about research, look at reproductive systems and ship sexual citizenship, how women's bodies are controlled, and the extent to which women have control over their bodies is this kind of fundamental to being able to be a political actor or an economic actor. So the sort of the intersections of all those dimensions of citizenship seemed to me to be really important in struggles for kind of more diverse policymaking, you're not going to get it if women can't go out into the policymaking landscape, because they have all the responsibility for looking after the children, for instance.

Ann Phoenix  41:59

And just to add to that, you mentioned at the beginning, that the second wave feminist slogan, the personal is political. And a lot of people do write it that because, you know, it seemed to be to micro or whatever. But the personal is political, and the political is personal, and always has been that intricately interlinked. And so what you're saying is absolutely right. I mean, that's one of the great benefits of focusing on FEM set, for example.

Sasha Roseneil  42:29

Victoria, do you want to come in ?

Victoria Showunmi  42:31

Just very quickly, because I'm also conscious that you want to get a few more questions in. I mean, I'm quite practical in this particular area. And I think that there does need to be, we do need to think about safe spaces, safe spaces that so if we do look at selection, and recruitment and retainment, for example, and we are looking at wanting to bring people into an organisation, say, for example, our organisation is with UCL, we need to also ensure that there are spaces safe spaces where people can be themselves and speak about things, which perhaps are rather controversial. And at the same time, when it comes to policy, we do need to be brave enough to carry out equality impact assessments, and really look at and assess what the policies are, what we're doing, and how that in itself will increase representation across the board.

Sasha Roseneil  43:31

Points, indeed. Thank you. There's been some chatter as q&a, which Joyce, I think it's been answering in the box. But I'm going to pick up on some issues that I think are addressed to you, Joyce, here, which are about childlessness. And the figures being cited 50% of women and are childless after their fertile years, how does that compare with historic childlessness? And if we go back to perhaps thinking about the beginning of the 20th century, and the suffragettes, who are our kind of point of departure today, I mean, how has how has Chanceless changed? And maybe, you know, also how has the meaning of it changed? And, you know, our, our childless women, actually full citizens in our society, you know, or are they somehow seen as less than full citizens?

Joyce Harper  44:19

I have been doing some work on Thomas's and published a few papers on this. And so it's, it's actually the latest data from the Office of National Statistics is that 18% of women passed their reproductive age, are childless. Now, some of these will actually absolutely be by choice. And that, you know, women 100 years ago didn't have a choice, and they didn't have contraception. They didn't have the choices that women have nowadays. I think that's one really positive thing that what we're able to do, but women globally are also pushing back the boundaries. We're having children much later. So the latest data from the Office of National Statistics for the UK Hey, says that for the first time, it's 50% of women in there who are aged 30 have are childless at the moment. So that's the first time it's ever been that high. So whether women are choosing, I'm just finishing a paper actually about a survey. We've asked women, how they feel their attitudes and their behaviour around their fertility if they want children. And most women do want children about the age of 30. But it's around the age of 30, that that fertility will will start to decline or by the by our mid 30s, it will, it has become increasingly difficult to get pregnant. So what we are seeing every year, year in year out globally, women delaying having their child children for whatever reason. And that age of having their first child going up, and the average age of having children going up. So that's very, very different. I'm sure we're all aware that, you know, 2030 years ago, people would mainly have children their mid 20s. Now it's 30. In some countries, it's 32. And the question I answered was about some countries encouraging and maybe even punishing people about having children wanting their population to have more children. And this is because the total fertility rate globally has gone down. So in the 50s, it was around five. So that meant on average, women had five children in their lifetime. Now, globally, it's around 2.5. And in some EU countries, it's 1.3. So that means on average, women are only having just one child, when I was young, it used to be 2.4. And China reverse their one child policy, because it didn't make political and economic sense to for two people to have one child. So that that will lead to so many huge issues around especially the economy of countries. But you know, we do we do have a growing population, but we think that that is going to really become slow. And can I just very briefly answer that. The next question about race, and class, there is absolutely loads of work around this. We hosted for last year's International Women's Day, an event called Race and reproduction. And women of different races have really many issues around reproduction. Black women are more at risk of having pregnancy problems, having maternal mortality, even in the UK and the USA, which is obviously totally unacceptable. So there is a lot of work that needs to be done around this. And it's much harder to access fertility treatment, if you don't have money. In the UK, it's incredibly expensive. So it is absolutely a treatment for the middle classes. And we've said repeatedly in the white middle classes. If you want to see that video we've got we've recorded that discussion, racing reproduction. It's, it's on my YouTube channel. But it was a really powerful discussion of different women and the issues that they've had regarding their race and their reproduction.

Sasha Roseneil  48:13

Great, thank you, Joyce. One thing that we found in the Femsit research that we did, which was kind of cross national research in Europe was that the stronger the policies, there were to support women having children, and the stronger the social policy kind of infrastructure. The stronger the childcare support, the stronger the benefits, support social benefits for more children who were having and that were having fewer children in places where they were left, you know, by themselves to deal with the consequences of having children. So the Social Democratic welfare states saw high numbers of women having children than the more neoliberal and particularly the post socialist states where the the infrastructure was was disappearing to support women who were having children. So there's something I think very important about the social policy infrastructure that supports reproductive citizenship and enables women to really make choices about whether they have children or not knowing that there is some social support for for their choices.

Sasha Roseneil  49:17

Victoria, did you want to - Oh, I can see Victoria and Ann, both wanted to come back in - Victoria had your hand up first, then Ann.

Victoria Showunmi  49:22

Yeah. And just something else, really, just to further spanner in the works. And just, I'm just checking the questions. But I wanted to also one of the things we haven't mentioned, but I think it's really important is you asked the question earlier, Sasha about, you know, what do we think hope or one of the suffragettes would have thought about if they if they were sitting with us now, I think there'd be disappointment about the what's the surge around domestic violence and what's happening with that. Also, this, this kind of challenges we're having with collecting data, and really charging people around rape and the date rape And and how that's coming part is part of society. And the belief of time for people not to believe that women are coming forward coming more from coming up coming forward more often about their experiences of rape, but at the same time not being believed, and charges, you know, not being charged, the perpetrators not being charged. So I think that's also something which doesn't sit very well, when you're thinking one step you're going forward. But at the same time, people don't want to believe that these things are really happening to women.

Sasha Roseneil  50:34

I'd really agree because the campaigns around sexual violence around violence against women were really tied up with a campaign for the vote to the feminists who were campaigning for the vote, were also very often campaigning against violence against women, and that they saw getting the vote and getting political citizenship as being important to try and tackle the violence they're experiencing in the home. But But you're absolutely right. It's, you know, one thing hasn't led to the other.

Sasha Roseneil  51:02

Ane did you want to come in?

Ann Phoenix  51:04

I was merely going to support what you said about it matters, how children are, what both how children are thought of, in particular societies, and how women are treated in terms of being able to get on with their lives once they have children. So it's no surprise that in Nordic countries, so many people have children, relatively early. And I'm not saying early but relatively early. And that, you know, some people have three and still managed to continue with their, their work, and so on. Because children are part of the society, they're looked after. You know, and it really matters. So I just wanted to emphasise that in Finland, for example, the baby box means that everybody gets provided for the first six months with the things that that babies will need. And it's not low status. Everybody wants to have that, that baby box, it matters, money, childcare, they're all provided. The flip side of that is that there are societies where some babies are valued, I don't mean that they're cared for by society, but they're more valued than others. So in the United States, as well, there's a lot of work on the fact that black women have, over over hundreds of years actually had their reproduction at the service of those who are more powerful. So when they're enslaved, being expected to bear children when it becomes less economic, to bring enslaved peoples over, but also been sterilised a great deal. And there's a lot of research that shows that, you know, without their consent, they're much more likely to be sterilised and so on. Nevermind the intersections that you were talking about choice in terms of needing money in order to be able to freeze your eggs, etc. So we have to take an intersectional view, and recognise that it's not an individual decision, although it's so frequently individualised, but so much more rides on it.

Sasha Roseneil  53:08

Thanks Ann there are lots of questions. And we're not going to get through them all. But I'm going to, I'm going to ask one that Katherine has posed in the q&a box, which I suppose is, is taking a different different kind of angle on all this. She says, many women I know have found the strength to find their own inner sense of belonging, to feel this is something that's evolving as a mechanism to bypass the patriarchy and the whole thing of the past. So I think this is an opportunity to just reflect on on what belonging does mean to women today, you know, if part of what hope and her fellow suffragettes were campaigning for was women to be able to feel a full sense of belonging in society, how far have we gone along those road along that road? And, and, you know, what are the mechanisms to use in the absence of full and equal citizenship? How do we find a sense of belonging? I wonder if any of you have any thoughts about that?

Joyce Harper  54:06

I can, I can say a few. So I'm, I have an amazing sense of belonging. I am very much an optimist. And I feel that So really think about hope. I think that we are I know we've got a long way to go. I absolutely appreciate that. But I think we are in an amazing position. Women are an amazing position in life, compared to 100 years ago. And for me, it's my community. So I've run a women's group i i open water, swim or session notes, such as as well with within and I've many other communities and I think within those communities, I think you can find strength, and you can find that strength of belonging. And I really, always try and encourage women my social media, feeds a lot about a lot of belief is about Women's well being and positivity. And I think that's what that's the way we need to move forward not to dwell about the hauntings of the past, but to think about our strength, our belonging, how we can move forward and our sense of community.

Victoria Showunmi  55:15

I'd like to jump in there as well, actually, I mean, I really do think it is about, I would actually look at my inner strength, and and, and how that moves you forward, and how it's moved me forward. And but at the same time, now, this isn't a negative, it's an honest conversation. Because what I'm also very conscious of, is the emotional burden that young black girls and black women, as they try to also continue with the inner strength and the strength going forward. But there's a lot, there's a lot, and they may not be, they may not be able to tap into such strength. And I think that is something we have to acknowledge. Because otherwise we produce this group of people, which don't show their emotions, that resilience is part of what it is to be a woman of colour, and what that does for one's mental health, and trying to also be, you know, kind of be part of a society. And I was just reading just this morning about the numbers of black women, which have decided to stop being part of an employment organisation of an organisation, which is just so aggressive towards them, and set up their own business 50%, since the pandemic, have decided that we're going to set up our own businesses. So that is, in some ways, also part of the practice of yeah, we're going to do something ourselves, which is very different. But we're not going to keep beating our heads against a situation of employment. And many, we have to acknowledge that many don't, don't aren't at a university, and many are in organisations, which are not as pleasant. I'm not saying the university we're at is the best in the world. But I'm saying that is important. So even though, myself, yes, I've got different groups around me. And I've got people I can tap into and tap into myself and my own spiritual start part. But we have to acknowledge that have an honest conversation about so what's happening to those women outside of that, because in this room, just us, it's a very middle class group of people. It's a very, very, very middle class group of people. But what about the people which aren't? So, you know, part of that? And how do they get their strength when they've got the bills and everything else, which they've got to pay for when all of this stuff? And I think that's an important question, which sometimes we forget to even think about, when we're looking at women's positivity, and how we're how we're actually moving forward in society.

Sasha Roseneil  58:04

We're going to have to finish there. Ann if it's, if it's 10 seconds, please have the floor.

Ann Phoenix  58:11

Only to say that it's multi level, but it has to be intersectional. If you're hungry, as many people in Britain now are, you cannot have this in a sense of belonging, but you can be very centred, but still recognise that there's racism as a black woman, for example, and that, that, so in different contexts, you can find sustenance, just as Joyce said, the different groups of which one belongs. And I am really grateful that I grew up in a time of feminist consciousness raising belonging to a consciousness raising group, black movements, where I belong to Black groups, and so on, because those do give you sustenance and a sense of self. So the politics of belonging is multifaceted. Sorry, that was longer than you wanted.

Sasha Roseneil  58:53

I want more. We were up against our deadline. I think it's, I mean, it's actually such a good point to end on, because one of the things that I was very struck by when I went to look at Hope was, she is made out of Lego bricks. And so there is, whilst it's an amazing construction, there is something not alive about her and what you've done all of you is, you know, you brought the emotion into this discussion about citizenship, about the unfinished business of the struggle for citizenship, you've brought us into, in touch with the emotional elements of that the multi dimensional intersectional dimensions of the struggle for citizenship. And I think we have provoked some interesting discussions, which was the point of having hope here. So thank you very much to the panel. Thank you. For everyone who's asked a question. Sorry, to everyone who's asked a question that hasn't been able to be answered. I hope we provoked some thinking for you all. And I just want to finish by thanking colleagues in UCL Grand Challenge of Justice and Equality and UCL Public Policy, especially Siobhan Morris, Olivia Stevenson and Evie Calder for organising this event. Thank you all for coming. Have a good evening everyone.