Feminist Activism - Education & Job Opportunities

East Leeds Women's Workshops - a Case Study

East Leeds Women's Workshops (ELWW) was established in 1981 to provide free vocational training so that women could get jobs that were traditionally only done by men. The project was a direct response to the closure of Burtons tailoring factory in the late 1970's, which had a detrimental effect on employment (especially of women) in the Harehills area of Leeds.


ELWW ran 6 month courses in Electronics and Micro-Computing, and Carpentry and Joinery, all taught by experienced women tutors, as seen in the images on the right. Priority was given to local East Leeds women over twenty five, single mothers, Black and Asian women, women with no further education, disabled women and lesbians. Its specific aim was to provide these women with the new skills and confidence required to break into the employment market.


ELWW established a comprehensive child care system so that the women enrolled on their courses could study effectively. They were sensitive to the women's specific childcare needs and responded according to their different circumstances. Women were helped to find local, convenient childcare, whether with child-minders, in nurseries or creches, or after-school clubs. The fees were covered by European Social Fund funding and ELWW itself organised childcare during school holidays.


The courses ran for eighteen years and became a model for other local authorities and for the voluntary sector.

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