Rooms of our Own is an exciting Social Enterprise inspired by the new feminist organisations springing up to campaign on a range of issues including violence against women and girls, objectification of women in the media, the spread of pornography and the lack of representation of women in many areas of public life.
The name of our organisation comes from the essay “A Room Of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf in which the author argues that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to be a successful author. We have borrowed this concept and extended it to assert that the women’s movement needs spaces of its own in order to grow and succeed.
A lot of campaigning can be carried out via social media, but meeting face-to-face is also very important. Finding spaces to meet which are safe, suitable, accessible and affordable is a real challenge.
During the 1970s there were women’s centres in most London boroughs and throughout the UK. They provided essential life-saving services as well as a hub for women to organise and campaign for issues relating to gender equality. Many of these centres were funded by local authority grants but as the grant-giving environment has diminished, especially in the past decade, most have been forced to close:- over 75% of women’s organisations in London had to reduce or close services by March 2013 (Women’s Resource Centre)
Rooms of our Own proposes a different model; a sustainable, self-financing social enterprise with the aim of generating revenue streams from housing and businesses, which in turn supports women’s charities, female entrepreneurs, and women’s community groups.
Gender inequality remains a pressing issue in 2014 as the following statistics demonstrate. The need for women’s centers delivering life-saving services to some of the most marginalised and oppressed women in our society is now more important than ever before.
- 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime; on average 2 women a week are killed by a current or former male partner (Women’s Aid)
- 85,000 women are raped on average in England and Wales every year (MOJ/ONS)
- Fewer than ¼ of MPs are female (UK Political Info)
- Only 19% of FTSE 100 Board members are women(Department for Business Innovation and Skills)
- Women graduates earn thousands of pounds less than their male equivalents(Higher Education Careers Services Unit)
We are in the early stages of securing a site in Walthamstow, on which we intend to build a multi-purpose building. We will construct housing and spaces for women’s businesses which would provide an income stream to subsidise spaces for charities and voluntary groups. Areas such as a café, meeting rooms and hot-desking will be open to all. Some, such as those offering services to women who have experienced rape or domestic violence, will be women only. The over-arching ethos is to provide a new space which is available and welcome to all.
Our patron is Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow and an active feminist. Jennette Arnold, London Assembly Member, and a number of other influential and expert women sit on our Advisory Group, and we have support from a number of local Councillors and a range of Waltham Forest voluntary organisations.
We are currently seeking supporters, volunteers and women interested in taking space in the future building. If you would like to learn more please CONTACT US