protest badges from feminist archive south

Hatpins to Hashtags

Hatpins to Hashtags was an innovative region wide project developed by Feminist Archive South exploring and reclaiming the tools of democracy to mobilize activism and celebrate herstory. Throughout Autumn and Winter 2018, a dynamic programme of digital engagement, educational workshops and exhibitions took place across the south west, advocating for greater gender parity in local and national politics and increase knowledge of UK democracy.

Over the last 100 years, from hatpins to hashtags, women have defended themselves and fought for equal rights with whatever tools are to hand. Celebrating the legacy of suffrage and the Women’s Liberation Movement, Hatpins to Hashtags will bring untold feminist narratives to light and raise awareness of how technology can be used as a tool in grassroots activism.

Taking place in Weston-super-mare, Bridport, Wells/Glastonbury, Taunton and Plymouth, Hatpins to Hashtags consisted of three interwoven strands:

  1. Digital Democracy delivered intensive training days on working with participatory, active democracy platforms via adult education centres and support women to cascade their digital democracy learning.
  2. Feminist Futures delivered a series of educational workshops for young people aged 16 – 30 at FE colleges and youth groups, providing engaging educational opportunities for young people to learn about the diverse histories of feminist activism as it links to contemporary debates about gender equality in their lives.
  3. Politics and Protest: Posters from the Women's Liberation Movement was a touring exhibition of vivid and dynamic posters from the Women’s Liberation Movement, selected from the archive’s stunning collection of over 1000. The exhibition and talks inspired questions such as: What issues have been won? What is still to be done? 

Who can attend the project:

Due to the nature of our funding outlined below, certain activities were aimed at specific groups or demographics: our 'Feminist Futures' workshops was aimed at 18-30 years olds and 'Digital Democracy' workshops was aimed at participants identfiying as women or non-binary. All other activities were open to all. For more information on Feminist Archive's approach to the project, please see the Statement of Values.  

Hatpins to Hashtags is one of only eight projects across the UK that received a first stage large grant as part of the Women’s Vote Centenary Grant Scheme, a £1.5 million government fund supporting local and community groups across England in celebrating the centenary of (some) women gaining the right to vote. The Large Grant Fund aims to leave a legacy for the Centenary through increasing young people’s understanding of democracy and inspiring them to get involved, and through increasing women’s participation in politics and civic life.

The following information is taken from Women’s Vote Centenary Grant Scheme guidance notes:

All projects must meet either or both the EDUCATE objective's aim of increasing young people’s knowledge of UK democracy and its importance, and increase their democratic participation or the PARTICIPATE objective's aim to aspire to achieve gender parity in local and national politics by the centenary of the Equal Franchise Act by 2028.

EDUCATE projects must be aimed at young people aged 16 to 30. We will expect to see a focus on women, women’s issues and/or gender equality, although projects can include all young people. We also expect to see projects work with young people who are particularly disengaged from politics and civic life, which may include young people from lower socio-economic groups, young people who are BAME, LGBT and/or living with disabilities.

PARTICIPATE projects must be aimed at women aged 16 and over. We also expect to see projects work with those women who are particularly disengaged from politics and civic life, which may include women from lower socio-economic groups, women who are BAME, LGBT and/or living with disabilities.

More information on the Women's Vote Centenary Grant Scheme:

The Representation of the People Act in 1918 extended the vote to women for the first time in the United Kingdom. The Women’s Vote Centenary Grants Scheme is one of a number of ways in which the 100 year anniversary is being marked across England. Since the Representation of the People Act and the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act came into effect in 1918, women have been voting and standing in elections. Following the 2017 General Election there are now 208 women MPs (32% of the House of Commons)(1).This is the highest number ever. However, if Parliament truly reflected the public it serves, we would expect 331 (or 51%) of all MPs to be women.

The election also saw 104 constituencies across the UK without any female candidates (2).This left approximately 7.5million British voters without an opportunity to vote for a woman candidate. The UK is currently 38th out of 193 countries worldwide and 11th in the European Union in terms of women’s political representation(3). YouGov estimate that at the 2017 General Election, 57% of 18 to 19 year olds voted compared with 84% of those aged 70 and over(4). Whilst this is the highest turnout of young people in 25 years, it remains unacceptably low; with young women from particular social backgrounds the least likely demographic to vote. The Hansard Society found that those who claim to be least interested in and knowledgeable about politics are younger (those aged 18-34), women, BAME people, and those from less affluent and least educated groups. They also note a decline in the number of women who claim that they feel knowledgeable about politics (5).

1 2017 results (HoC library):

2 2017: Women candidates by party and constituency:



5 Audit of Political Engagement 14: The 2017 Report. Hansard Society