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Labour women Assembly Members launch campaign for Purple Plaques for women on International Women's Day

March 08, 2017 at 10:02 AM

A group of 15 Welsh Labour women AMs are urging the public to 'Back the Plaque' in a campaign to give remarkable Welsh women the recognition they deserve by installing purple plaques on their former homes or places of work.

The newly-formed Assembly Labour Women’s Group (ALWG) launched the Purple Plaque Campaign in Cardiff Bay on International Women’s Day on March 8.

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The first plaque will recognise the work of women’s rights campaigner, former director of Shelter Cymru and the Equal Opportunities Commission Wales and admired former Swansea East AM, Val Feld, who died in 2001.

Why we think there should be Purple Plaques for Welsh women

There are currently an estimated 250 mainly blue plaques commemorating notable figures in Wales, the overwhelming majority highlighting men’s achievements. A few notable female exceptions are designer Laura Ashley in Merthyr Tydfil, Suffragette Lady Rhondda in Newport and Dame Dorothy Rees, Wales’ first female MP in Barry.

 Julie Morgan said: “It appears from our research that there is a paltry number of blue plaques for women in Wales. As far as we can tell there are only around a dozen and at least 200 for men. There may be more that we don’t know about but it’s definitely nowhere near equal representation. You could be forgiven for thinking the women of Wales haven’t had much impact on our cultural, political and scientific life. This is really not the case and we think it’s about time to blow the trumpet for some of our unsung heroes.”

Why Purple Plaques for women in Wales?

Newport West AM, Jayne Bryant, chair of Assembly Labour Women's Group (ALWG), said: “We as a group of Labour Women AMs have chosen International Women’s Day to launch the Purple Plaque campaign in recognition of prominent, successful and historic women who are recognised less often than men of a similar standing.

“The colour purple has been chosen to reflect the sacrifices of the suffragette movement. I would love to see plaques that recognise women’s achievements are always suffragette purple.

“It is fitting that we’ve chosen one of the leading architects of devolution in Wales, Val Feld, to be the first to receive this honour. True testimony to Val’s legacy as a campaigner for gender equality and promoter of women's participation in Welsh politics can be seen in the current gender balance of Labour AMs. She inspired a generation.”

The purple plaque for Val Feld is just a first step for the ALWG group – there are plans to expand the Purple Plaque campaign and open it up to get suggestions from the public of women who made a significant contribution to Welsh life. They could be from the cultural world, political world, science, medicine or the voluntary sector.

 Information on Blue plaques in Wales:

According to www.blueplaqueplaces.co.uk there are 215 plaques in Wales – the vast majority of them are for famous Welsh men but some are plaques about historic events / organisations.

** Just 11 of the plaques it lists are for women. **

About Val Feld 

Valerie Breen Turner, politician: born Bangor, Caernarvonshire 29 October 1947; Director, Shelter Cymru 1981-89; Director, Equal Opportunities Commission Wales 1989-99; Member (Labour) for Swansea East, National Assembly of Wales 1999-2001; married 1969 John Feld (two daughters; marriage dissolved 1979); died Swansea 17 July 2001.

Val Feld was one of the most highly regarded members of the National Assembly for Wales. That view was not confined to her Labour colleagues – it was widely shared across the political spectrum, not least because she was one of the leading architects of devolution achieved by a whisker in the referendum following the 1997 election. More than that, she was largely responsible for promoting women's participation in Welsh politics. The fact that 25 of the 60 Assembly members are women is testimony to a determination honed during 10 years as director of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Wales.