Elen de Lacey (left) and Dr Denitza Williams receiving Audrey Jones awards from Jane Hutt AM, Robert Jones, son of Audrey Jones, and Prof Jackie Jones, WAW chair
Jane Hutt AM presented the Audrey Jones Award at the Wales Assembly of Women Annual Conference at Cardiff University on March 11th. The Awards were won by Dr Denizta Williams and Elen de Lacey. It was also announced at the Conference that the life and work of the late Audrey Jones has been recorded in the Dictionary of Welsh Biography, a significant national archive that contains more than 5,000 concise biographies of Welsh people who have made a significant contribution to national life.
Jane said: “It was a privilege to be asked to present these awards in honour of Audrey, who I knew for many years as a staunch campaigner for equality for women and girls. I congratulate the Wales Assembly of Women on establishing this significant award for research by women as a way of paying tribute to Audrey’s tireless work on behalf of women in Wales.”
Audrey Jones ( 1929-2014), taught at St Cyres School, Penarth, for 30 years, gaining a reputation as an uncompromising advocate of girls’ education and rising to Deputy Head, a distinction gained by few women in 1980s comprehensives. Committed to challenging sexism in education, she actively encouraged girls to study science and maths. When she died, tributes included one from former student Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who said she was ‘an amazing teacher’ and a ‘massive influence’ on her life.
Audrey helped start Wales Women’s Rights Committee (WWRC), which evolved into Wales Assembly of Women (WAW). WAW sent delegates to every major UN World Conference for Women and in 2000 became accredited to the UN Economic and Social Council, when Audrey hand-delivered the application in New York. She represented WAW in preparations for the significant 1995 UN World Conference for Women in Beijing, and regularly attended annual New York sessions to review progress on Beijing until a couple of years before her death, including the major conferences Beijing+5 (2000) and Beijing+10 (2005). She also championed women’s rights through the Vale of Glamorgan Labour Party, serving on the general committee and the executive. She linked WAW with the Women’s Arts Association, and, became Chair for several years. She was a founder member of Women’s Archive of Wales, the body committed to raising the profile of women in Welsh history; and a member of the Fawcett Society, influential in its education group. Audrey was one of 60 leading UK feminists chosen for interview for the British Library archive Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project that documented memories of activists at the forefront of the fight for political and social equality in the 1970s/80s. The British Library website holds a summary of her six-hour-plus audio interview and a video clip of Audrey in typically animated fashion commenting on the sexism evident in exam questions of the time.
As devolution loomed in Wales, Audrey was an ardent campaigner when WAW joined other women’s groups in a powerful movement to persuade the new National Assembly to commit to equal opportunity and took to the streets with WAW members in the drive to get Labour to adopt constituency twinning to ensure gender equality in Labour representation in the first Assembly. Audrey always aimed to involve young women in WAW and keep up with research on women’s rights. In 2016, WAW brought these two aims together when it established the Audrey Jones Memorial Awards for Research by Women in her honour.
Extract from the Dictionary of Welsh Biography
Author: Jean Silvan Evans