March 13 2014 Latest news:
Robin de Peyer
Friday, March 8, 2013
Feminist activists have occupied the Women’s Library on International Women’s Day in a bid to help save it from closure.
Around 70 protesters from campaign group Reclaim It! have been occupying the building in Old Castle Street, Aldgate, since around 1.30pm on Friday.
Organisers said the occupation was “part of a growing wave of feminist anger against the government’s austerity regime”.
History lecturer and library user Josie Foreman is among those joining the occupation.
“The Women’s Library houses a world-renowned collection of women’s history”, she said.
“At a time when women are bearing the brunt of this government’s savage cuts, cuts which compound the gender inequality of our society, this history is more important than ever.
“We are here to fight for our right to access that history, which is our history”, she added.
The Reclaim It! group said on Twitter that there was a great atmosphere during Friday afternoon as Samba bands played.
But later in the afternoon, the group tweeted: “Police and security have tried to stop the occupation, we are resisting. Come and join us- solidarity needed.@MillionWomen #Reclaim_it”.
Plans to move the library from its current home to the London School of Economics have sparked outrage, with MP for Bethnal Green and Bow a vocal critic.
A ‘Save The Women’s Library’ campaign was started by London Metropolitan University’s UNISON branch in October.
The library began its life in 1926, and has been in its Old Castle Street location for 10 years. It houses artefacts including banners, posters and pamphlets documenting women’s struggles for equality everywhere from the polling station to the workplace.