(Ground floor, north west corridor)
Throughout history women have made a diverse and invaluable contribution to Belfast, playing a significant role in shaping the city. Belfast City Council’s Women’s Steering Group commissioned the window after a notice of motion to council which was supported by all the political parties to celebrate, recognise and pay tribute to the outstanding contribution by the city’s women.
The council’s Women’s Steering Group worked with the women’s movement across the city and a local historian to develop the window which is an illustration of Belfast women mill workers, and signifies the struggles that women have faced throughout history, some of which still exist today.
Working conditions in the mills were horrendous, wages were low, hours were long, health poor and life expectancy low. Women outnumbered male workers but were paid much less, and employers often issued the women with fines for laughing, singing or even adjusting their hair to keep wages low.
In response to their poor treatment, the women formed the textile workers section of the Irish Transport Workers Union and united to organise the Belfast Linen Strike of 1911. The women mill workers showed solidarity and courage and that courage, strength and faith is an inspiration to the women of today. They believed, ‘if you have faith and courage in each other, you can win’. Women, both present and future will continue to play an important role in leading and shaping our city and changing lives for the better. Through celebrating their history and contribution to the city Belfast city council’s women’s steering group hopes this window will inspire and unite women to continue the work for equality for all and for the uplifting of women’s lives. The window was unveiled in the week of International Women’s Day 2016 by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Arder Carson on Thursday 3 March 2016 and was designed, manufactured and installed by Alpha Stained Glass.