Women’s campaigner given CBE but urges change to honour’s name

January 31 2020
Women’s campaigner given CBE but urges change to honour’s name

A Knowle activist and researcher, who has spent over 50 years combating violence against women, has been awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Professor Gill Hague, 74, has accepted the coveted award in honour of the women she has worked with over the years but says that she is also critical of ‘empire’ still being used in the honours title.

Professor Hague is now being joined by others who have reluctantly accepted the honours to lobby the government to offer alternative names to the traditional titles.

The Commander of the Order of the British Empire honour is awarded to those who have a prominent role at national level or a leading role at regional level.

Professor Hague, who retired in 2012 from her role as professor of violence against women studies at the University of Bristol, told the Voice: “There are people from former British Empire colonies who are now citizens of this country.

“I know people with ancestors who were enslaved in these colonies who find the ‘empire’ term personally hurtful.

“We’re a forward-looking society, so why do we have our honours named after an institution that ended years ago?

“Our proposal is that alternative names are offered to those of deep conviction and conscience, who have been unable to accept the award.”

 She added: “Although I am critical of the ‘empire’ name, it is a CBE and I’m very honoured to receive the award.

“I’m accepting it to honour all of those who I’ve had the privilege of working with.”

Professor Hague’s lifetime commitment to tackling violence against women began when she joined the UK Women’s Liberation movement in the early 70s. “We were young and making a change – it was fantastic,” she recalled. 

As a result of the movement, Professor Hague became involved in setting up and working in women’s refuges, and in 1990 – alongside Dr Ellen Malos – she founded the University of Bristol’s Centre for Gender and Violence Research, which has played a key role in conducting pioneering research helpful to women and children survivors of abuse.

Throughout her career, Professor Hague has produced more than 130 publications, including eight books on violence against women and is on the brink of releasing a book this summer about the history of the violence against women movement.

She has also worked across the globe shaping policy and practice, while giving a voice to women and children survivors of abuse.

Join Professor Gill Hague on February 28, 7.30pm for ‘Making Change’ – an evening of international film, poetry and music at The Old Picture House, Totterdown in aid of charities TreeSisters and Milfumi. Co-ordinated by Professor Hague, it features short films and poems by the late Maya Angelou, poetry about women from across the globe, as well as live jazz and blues music. Tickets are £10/£8 and can be purchased by emailing dmerr9226@aol.com.