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For the first banner-making workshop we had an intimate group of 5, including myself. We began the session by talking about the Suffragette movement; putting our feet in the shoes of these women. This gave us perspective on the then and the now, reflecting and comparing similarities and differences, and highlighting factors important to the individual women and those that applied to the group as a whole:

“Having a voice: to be heard.”

Conversation then navigated towards the personal; what does it mean to be a woman? What does it mean to be a woman within Shetland? This brought up conflicting contrasts between: the real and the expected (what may be expected of us as women versus what we may expect for ourselves); community and isolation (the power of belonging to a community versus the power of being isolated from a community); strength and vulnerability (conflicting states of being depending on circumstance; the “ebb and flow” of life).

This poetic sentiment of “ebb and flow” spoke true within the group. There is an “ebb and flow” with life as there is with the island as its own being. We respond to its motions and react accordingly:

“There is something about our island; it is within me as I am within it.”

The next banner-making workshop takes place on Monday 2nd April in the Auditorium at Mareel between 12pm – 2pm where we shall be developing this conversation alongside designing and creating imagery and text for the banner.

Marsali Taylor, author of ‘Women’s Suffrage in Shetland’ will be in attendance between 12pm – 1pm to give a talk on the history of the fight for women’s suffrage: the first bills from 1860 on, and the parallel fights by suffrage activists for equality for women in law, in education, and at work, with particular reference to the work of suffragists in Shetland.

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