On the morning of October 21, 1966 a slag heap for a coal mine operated by the National Coal Board collapsed and covered the local school. As a result, 28 adults and 116 children died.
Dr Daryl Leeworthy writes about the politicisation of the women of Aberfan as part of the emergence of green politics and female environmental activism. Anti-nuclear activism by Elaine Morgan; Greenham Common; support for the 1984-5 miners strike:
If the phrase “women’s liberation” was not on the minds of those who established the women’s support group in the village, what it ultimately became was certainly similar to those women’s liberation groups that were established in Cardiff in 1970 and Swansea in 1972. They actively thought in those terms.
But in their own way, the questions being posed by the members of that pioneering Aberfan group were very similar. What is to be our role in the modern world? How can we make the world a better place? How can we make it safer and more equal.
In the years that followed, the answers varied. For some there was the motivation to win equal pay for equal work.
For others it was the battle to provide a safe environment for women on the streets at night. Others sought a safety net for women who experienced domestic violence.
Still more worried about the threat of nuclear weapons. And there were those who grew up in the shadow of the coal tips who thought carefully about a sustainable future.
The ideas that that generation of women activists considered and ultimately embraced remain as strong as their memories of first hearing the news on October 21, 1966.