Glasgow Women’s Library is proud to celebrate International Women’s Day this year, with a series of short films and a conversation event about the Meridian – Glasgow’s first Women’s Centre dedicated to breaking down barriers and empowering BAME women. Opening in the early 90s, this vibrant and engaging space hosted women from all the city, who came to be a part of the inspiring work that took place here for over twenty years. From lifelong learning programmes, health education and counselling services to language classes, social events and creche facilities, Meridian aimed to empower women to identify, plan and achieve for themselves.
Many women from BAME backgrounds, especially those with language barriers, are subject to educational and employment limitations, racial and sexual discrimination and a lack of access to public services. Although there were a number of black and ethnic minority women’s groups across Glasgow at the time, they unfortunately had little power and few resources. Recognising the need for a centre that would give women the choice to be independent and self-sustaining by educating them on their rights and allowing them to have a say, a group of BAME women from a variety of different backgrounds came together and established the Meridian.
Learning was at the core of Meridian’s work with the centre providing a rich programme of classes set firmly within the needs, demands and views expressed by the women who attended. Emphasising the importance of Lifelong Learning – an understanding that learning is a continuous process – as a source of empowerment and emancipation, Meridian supported women at every stage of their learning process with the aim to improve their lives through educating and exposing them to new opportunities.
Looking through the abundance of photographs, newsletters and reports in Meridian’s archive, their ability to build a strong and integrated community is apparent. A commitment to creating a space where women – whatever their background – could learn and socialise together played a major role in the centre’s success. Summer programmes of dance workshops where women were able to learn techniques from African, Chinese, Indian and Scottish dance to events celebrating Diwali, Vaishaki, Eid and Christmas are just some of the memories that highlight the belief that there is strength in diversity.
International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on past achievements and continue to campaign for equality and was always a focus of Meridian’s celebrations. Although the centre sadly closed their doors in 2007, we are excited to have this opportunity to celebrate the centre’s legacy and hear stories from some of the women who were part of Meridian’s journey.
Follow @womenslibrary this #IWD2021 to learn more about Meridian and be sure to join our In Conversation event with founding member Brij Gandhi on Thursday 11th March at 7pm.
by Leanne Jeffrey
Sign up to attend the event here!