If there’s one thing I hold dear above all else, it’s feminism. I could, and probably will in the future, write a post[s] entirely dedicated to the subject, so for now I shan’t go too deeply in to it. Anyway, when the BBC released a documentary about the history of the Women’s Institute for the WI centenary (presented by the wonderful, wonderful Lucy Worsley) I of course dropped everything to glue myself to the telly.
What the documentary reveals is that the quintessential image of little old cake-baking and jam-making WI ladies is a dreadfully skewed stereotype; in reality, they were feisty and occasionally fearsome trouble-making women dedicated to continuing the fight for equality that was begun in earnest by the Suffragettes. Politically aware (you must see the cracking clip of WI members slow-clapping Tony Blair’s poor attempts at proselytizing), the women of the WI have campaigned for everything from equal pay, domestic violence, and AIDS, to honey bees and mental health over the past century, and played a major role in sustaining war-time Britain by boosting food self-sufficiency from 35% in 1914, to 60% by 1918. This is the sort of thing that brings me to tears…what a legacy! It seemed, therefore, only natural to join the local chapter of the WI once I moved back home.
During the first meeting I attended, a friend suggested to the room that we all pitch in with the effort to ease the plight of the 1.8 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees currently in Kurdistan by running up some knitted blankets and dressing gowns as part of the Knit for Peace initiative. Well, I don’t knit, but I do crochet, and am raring to join the ranks of conscientious campaigners both past and present. So far, I’ve amassed a modest stack of mossy green Aran knit solid granny squares (simple and easy, the repetitive pattern sends me into a trance which only makes the production of these squares all the more addictive) that I aim to happily add to whenever I have a spare moment.