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On a roll: Feminist toilet paper to be exhibited at the Museum of London

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An unconventional exhibit will be coming to the Museum of London: limited edition toilet roll.

The roll will be one of 100 commissioned by campaign group First Hundred Years as a way of commemorating the ‘courage and tenacity of pioneering women in the law’.

The campaign was founded to celebrate, inform and inspire future generations of women in the profession. In 2019, the project will be marking the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time.

Curator Beverley Cook said: “The law was changed in 1919 and it became unlawful to exclude women from the professions on gender grounds, but in practical ways it was not always as simple as that. Something like a lack of female toilets in courts and barristers’ chambers meant there was still a practical barrier to these women practising law and they had to campaign to change that."

First 100 Years is in the midst of creating an online museum focussing on women in law. Creator Dana Denis-Smith said: "People don’t know their history - who the first woman solicitor was, for instance. There is no archive like the First 100 years to help us place ourselves in history."

The roll, designed Adrien Raphoz with text by Grant Codron, has been made to represent how a lack of female bathrooms at law firms and legal institutions was used as a pretext not to hire women in law, as recently as the 1970s.

The Museum of London website states that 'it fits brilliantly with our collection of suffragette material, reflecting the way that even after campaigners fought to end formal discrimination, unequal facilities excluded women from the world of work and public life.’

Earlier this month, female barristers won the right to access what was once an all-male locker room at Southwark crown court, arguing that the limited access meant they were being excluded from conversations about cases.

Cook added: "Some people would say we still have a long way to go and that’s the really great thing about this exhibit. It is a contemporary object that links back to the past."

 




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