The Women’s Voluntary and Community Sector (WVCS) grew out of the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020.

The contribution of the WVCS in advancing women’s rights is largely undocumented.  Many of the women who were involved in setting up women’s organisations and campaigning for change are now in their late 50s and 60s. Their struggles and achievements have remained largely invisible. 

This exciting and project created a unique oral history archive documenting the testimonies of current and past leaders.

This archive illustrates the impact that the WVCS has had on the structural position of women, through campaigning and influencing. The archive also provides insight into the impact on the lives of the women themselves as drivers of the movement.

View the archive

Two London schools were involved in the project. The pupils taking part learnt about women's position in 1970s/80s; were trained to and conduct oral history interviews of women leaders; took part in feminist leadership training; and identified and researched local women leaders.

Alongside this, we collaborated with the Women’s Library’s Archives and Special Collections at the London School of Economics Library, to ensure an untold story is captured through archiving digital recordings, transcripts and photographs.


Did you know WVCS has had a central role in improving women’s rights and addressing gender inequality?

For example, women’s organisations played a key role in the introduction of the Abortion Act 1967, the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act 1985 and making rape in marriage illegal in 1991. However, the contribution of the WVCS, as distinct from the WLM as a whole, in advancing women’s rights, particularly in terms of race, is not widely known or understood.

Did you know the women and girls that receive support from these organisations describe the WVCS as the ‘4th emergency service’?

 We stand in honour and appreciation of the following women who will take this journey with to us to situate their biographies and narratives within their context. In no particular order...

Pragna Patel - Southall Black Sisters

Lee Eggleston OBE & Sheila Coates MBE - Rape Crisis

Dr Akima Thomas OBE - Women and Girls Network

Ranjit Kaur - Activist & Campaigner

Professor Liz Kelly - Child and Woman Abuse Studies, LMU

Marai Larasi MBE

Sarbjit Ganger - Asian Women's Resource Centre

Naana Otoo-Oyortey MBE - FORWARD

Rosalind Bragg - Maternity Action

Mary-Ann Stephenson - Women's Budget Group

Esuantsiwa Jane Goldsmith - Healing Solidarity International Feminist Collective

Joyce Kallevik - WISH

Carolina Gottardo - Latin American Women's Rights

Vivienne Hayes MBE - Women's Resource Centre

WRC is so excited about this project and to be honouring the women who have worked tirelessly to protect women's rights.

Thank you to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for making this project possible.

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For updates on the project, please join the WRC Community below.