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Glasgow's Women Series

Over on Instagram we are sharing a series on Glasgow’s Women, picking out statues and sites around Glasgow that help showcase memorable women who have had an impact on the city.

Here are our first two posts in the series, starting with T&D member Okanlawon Adeniyi’s feature on the Mary Barbour statue.

First picture: Image credit Lesley Mitchell.

The Mary Barbour statue stands at Govan Cross outside Govan Subway station, behind Govan Cross shopping Mall in Glasgow. The sculpture depicts a line of a marching group, with community members led by Mary Barbour standing on an angled platform. The statue was completed in 2017 and unveiled on 8th March 2018. It was designed by sculptor Andrew Brown and made with Bronze material. The statue was unveiled on International Women's Day to honour her for the great works she has done for the community during her time. Mary Barbour (née Rough) was born on 20th February 1875, died at the age of 83 on 2nd April 1958. She was well known for Glasgow Rent Strikes, and the Women's Peace Crusade, because of the good impact she contributed to the whole community. Mary was an important figure in Glasgow that improved housing and conditions for working people during the 1915 Rent Strikes, when she exposed and protested against the landlords who took advantage of the wartime economy by increasing the rents and evicting those who could not pay during the time. Mary was a political activist, community leader, local counsellor, and magistrate who campaigned for peace and taking action to effect social change, political, economic, and environmental change in her community. Mary Barbour's name will be remembered forevermore not only in Glasgow but to the entire world for what she has done, for making other women know that there is nothing women cannot achieve in life, for building women's self-esteem. The first time I saw the Mary Barbour statue at Govan subway station, what came to mind was, she must have to be a strong woman and do something meaningful for the community before the statue could be erected. Especially when I read the meaning to the statue, saw other people behind her, that she was leading, because it is very uncommon seeing a woman statue around the city or in a country. Men always find it difficult to recognize women in that way, until I read about her story and see that a lot of people fought for her to be remembered.

By Okanlawon Adeniyi

Image credit: Lesley Mitchell

Another in the series is La Pasionaria.

The ‘La Pasionaria’ statue stands facing the river Clyde, raised 3 meters high on an iron girder, the figure outstretched towards the sky. The statue was erected in 1979 and created by the sculptor Arthur Dooley commissioned by the International Brigades Association of Glasgow. It uses the figure of Dolores Ibárruri to commemorate the British individuals that volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War against the rise of fascism. Ibárruri (1895-1989) often known as her pseudonym ‘La Pasionara’ (The Passionflower), was an influential communist politician and activist who fought against fascism during the Spanish Civil War 1936 – 1939. An engraving underneath the figure states “Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees”, which is one of the phrases Ibárruri became known for as a great persuasive orator. Along with ¡No Pasarán! (They Shall Not Pass!), issued during ‘The Battle for Madrid’. She founded Mujeres Antifascistas in 1933, a women’s group that protested war and fascism. And speaking to her fame, in the same year a soviet astronomer named an asteroid he discovered after her. Ibárruri lived in exile from Spain and was only able to return in 1977, where she continued her political career up until her death in 1989 at 93 years old. She campaigned for legislation to improve women’s conditions, and working, housing and health circumstances, as well as seeking land reform and rights for trade unionists. The sculpture seeks to memorialise this historic tie between Scotland and Spain, where thousands of men and women volunteered to fight against fascism, 534 of whom died, 65 of them from Glasgow. In doing so it also serves to highlight Glasgow’s history with communist political leanings, as with the Red Clydeside movement of the early 20th century. I would have liked to see it in bronze as was originally proposed, instead of the more affordable fiberglass, but as one of Glasgow’s few statues to named women it draws attention to a fascinating individual and an interesting piece of Scottish History.

If, like us, you want to see more memorials of women in Glasgow, keep an eye out for more in this series, where we will seek out our own sites to memorable women. If you have any you would like to see, let us know!


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