Back in February I first shared the story of The Women’s Quilt. A quilt born out of love from some of the very saddest stories you could hear. “The most beautiful project that shouldn’t exist.” The Quilt was inspired by the Femicide Census, alongside the Counting Dead Women Project by Karen Ingala Smith. My original post about the project can found here. https://wizardoflozblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/a-voice-for-the-victims-the-womens-quilt/
For those unfamiliar with The Women’s Quilt each square represents a woman killed by her partner or an ex. Five Hundred and ninety eight women, between 2009 and 2015. The square focusing on the life of the woman. Representing them as the life that they lived rather than just another unidentifiable number making up a statistic. Because that is the essence of what the project is about. As Roxanne Ellis who started the Quilt project up, said back in February, “Last year the Femicide Census was released and I just felt something needed to be done, a visualisation of all the women who have lost their lives. Something other than a number on a page that can be glossed over. Something that emphasised the names of the women, as so often it’s their names are forgotten” so that’s why it’s important that this story is revisited. It’s a marathon not a sprint and there is a lot of work to do in order to keep the aims of the Quilt in focus and most importantly achieved so that we can fight for the women and make their voices the ones that are heard.
When I first posted about The Women’s Quilt the project was still very much in process. Not all names had been represented, many still needed their patches made. A short amount of time after the publication of my post and similar post raising awareness of the project, all names had someone sewing for them. The Facebook group set up to organise the project now has over 1300 members. The GoFund me page raised over £800. Patches were made and sent in from across the county, even support from across the globe. People shared the stories of the women from their patch. Members of the project supported one and other. The project was featured in articles across the media, radio, television and had online campaign including support on Twitter from several MPs & celebrities such as Michael Sheen! Karen Ingala Smith (Counting Dead Women Project) talked of the Quilt when she was a speaker at the Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse Conference. Perhaps most bitter sweet of all was the contact made from families of the women featured in the Quilt. Their love and support for a project that focused on the life of the person they loved. The very meaning of what the Quilt is all about.
So what happened with the Quilt? The plan was for it to be unveiled on International Women’s Day. With all the patches completed and with the hard work of the dedicated group of quilters who held several days and some very long nights of sewing bees the Quilt was completed and then on the 8th of March 2017, International Women’s day launched in New Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament. Supported by so many MPs who came to look at, listen, talk and share the story of the Women’s Quilt.
The work didn’t stop then. The Quilt still needed the finishing touches and the project still had work to focus on. The amazing team continued their incredible and dedicated craftwomanship to completed spot repairs, putting on the wading and backing and tying the Quilt. As the work on the physical Quilt continued so to did the work with the project as a whole. New ideas for craft protects, decisions on what would happen with the Quilt and sharing the continuing horrifying stories of domestic violence and women losing their lives at the hands of a partner/ex.
So what happens next? Well for the Quilt it’s next journey will be to the Women’s Aid Conference at Warwick University. Where Roxanne shall be speaking about its story. The plan will then be for the Quilt to be displayed around the country so it’s story can be seen and heard far and wide. A scrap book is being made to travel with the Quilt to explain its tale. Stories are being written about the people involved in the project and those impacted by it. A real voice for the victims. The craft side of the project shall also continue, The Women’s Quilt will expand into providing lap blankets, small quilts, trauma teddies and similar to children living in refuges, so they can have something of their own that has been made with love. The next step is to set up The Women’s Quilt as a chairty organisation. To make all this possible we need your continued help and support. You can follow the Quilts journey on Instagram and Twitter @thewomensquilt you are welcome to join us all in the Facebook group if you would like to help/support the project https://m.facebook.com/groups/WomensQuilt
Unfortunately the fight continues for the very real issues raised from The Women’s Quilt project. The fight on behalf of the victims as the media continues to ignore the life and voice of the victims in favour for gory details and excuses for the perpetrators. Every week in England and Wales two women are killed by their current or former partner. From January ti May this year 61 women have been killed by men. How many could you name? Let’s fight for them and fight for their families. To ensure that they report with the victim and the love ones they have left behind in mind first. That they focus on the women whose lives were worth so much more than getting clicks to a news article and being just another number within a statistic. Let’s make sure no excuses are made for the person who stole that life. Don’t let the victim be blamed when their voice can no longer be heard to defend themselves. Help us campaign to change the way domestic murders are reported in the press. Best way to do this? Contact your MP, ask them to support The Women’s Quilt project and ask them to put pressure on the media to change. Together we can make the voices heard. The journey continues and thank you for your support. ❤️