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Recovering voices of socio-legal reform (and bringing them to a new audience)

Thompson, Sharon ORCID: 2023. Recovering voices of socio-legal reform (and bringing them to a new audience). [Online]. SLSA Blog: SLSA. Available at:

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“A little while ago I was asked to speak at some big organisation…might have been Women’s Institute. I gave half an hour’s talk, I get one or two questions and it’s over. I think that’s simply amazing. It affects all of them, and yet they’re so anxious to get on to the group that was doing the choir, or the lampshades… I don’t regret what the Married Women’s Association has done at all. Because I think this is vital work. What we are doing is chang[ing] the law. And after that, it will be to educate people about the process of changing the law, to educate people that women are just as important as the people who bring home the pay packet.” These are the words of Juanita Frances, quoted from an interview with historian Brian Harrison about her work as founder of the feminist pressure group the Married Women’s Association (MWA). In this extract, Frances was clearly frustrated by some women’s apparent disinterest in the MWA’s efforts to reform the law. Yet the group not only faced obstacles when agitating for reform; in histories of family law, it seems the MWA has left little, if any, trace at all. Formed in 1938, the MWA was the first pressure group of the twentieth century to focus primarily on reforming married women’s property rights to further equality inside the home, with the hope this would be the key to women’s emancipation outside it, too. The group played an important yet unacknowledged role in family law reform, and my book Quiet Revolutionaries seeks to uncover this untold story.

Item Type: Website Content
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
K Law > K Law (General)
K Law > KD England and Wales
Publisher: SLSA
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 10:56

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