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The Swinging Sixties saw the re-kindling of female radicalism. In the United States , Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique and founded the National Organisation of Women. In Britain , a burgeoning women's liberation movement met for the first time. This was the decade that saw the first sales of the contraceptive pill and a law that legalised abortion.

In 1965 Jean Shrimpton appeared in a mini skirt at the Melbourne Races and Twiggy set a new style for body and hair. Valentina Tereschkova became the first woman in space and in Ceylon Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first woman Prime Minister, with Indira Ghandi and Golda Meir following soon after.

Jocelyn Bell discovered pulsars, Dorothy Hodgkin won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry and The Women's Football Association was founded, with 44 clubs.

In 1965, Barbara Castle was appointed Minister of Transport, becoming the first female Minister of State. In this capacity, she oversaw the introduction of seat belts and the 'breathalyser'. Then, as Secretary of State for Employment, she paved the way for equal pay after being inspired by the women machinists at Fords of Dagenham who went out on strike for an equal wage in 1968.

1960

July Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike (1916-2000) becomes prime minister of Ceylon, making her the world's first.

  

1960

Yvonne Pope becomes Britain's first woman air traffic controller. She will also become the first woman captain with Dan Air in 1975.

  

1960

The National Housewives' Register is set up by Mary Nichol.

  

1960

Primatologist Jane Goodall (born 1934) leaves England for Lake Tanganyika to begin her study of chimpanzees.

  

1961

The contraceptive pill goes on sale for the first time in the UK.

  

1962

Elizabeth Lane becomes the first woman County Court judge.

  

1962

Rachel Carson's (1907-1964) book Silent Spring is published, raising awareness of environmental issues for the first time.

  

1962

Barbara Salt is appointed ambassador to Israel, making her the first British woman to be appointed. But sadly she becomes too ill to take up her post. It wasn't until 1976 that Anne Warburton became the first woman ambassador to take up her post in Denmark. 

  

1962

The Pre-school Playgroups Association is set up to provide much needed provision for under-fives.

  

1963

From the 16 to the 19 of June Lt. Col Valentina Tereschkova (born 1937) orbits the Earth 48 times, making her the first woman in space.

  

1963

Sylvia Plath(1932-1963) publishes The Bell Jar.

  

1963

Betty Friedan (born 1921) publishes The Feminine Mystique, the first book to analyse the role of women in American Society and raise issues of emancipation.

  

1963

Christine Keeler is charged with perjury in the Profumo affair.

  

1963

Pianist Fanny Waterman founds the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition, which will become one of the leading piano competitions in the world.

  

1964

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin  (1910-1944) wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry and in particular for her work on penicillin and determining the structure of vitamin B-12. 

  

1964

Mary Rand becomes the first British woman to win a gold medal in athletics when she wins the long jump at the Tokyo Olympics.

  

1964

The Married Women's Property Act entitles a woman to keep half of any savings she had made from the allowance she was given by her husband.

  

1965

The model Jean Shrimpton shocks the world when she appears at the Melbourne races wearing a short skirt and no gloves.

  

1965

Barbara Castle  (1910-2002) is appointed Minister of Transport, becoming the first female Secretary of State.

  

1966

Twiggy makes her first appearance at a photo shoot.

  

1966

Shelia Scott is the first British woman to fly round the world.

  

1966

In the USA, the National Organisation for Women (NOW) is founded by Betty Friedan and other feminists to campaign for equal rights. This is still the most powerful women's lobbying group in the USA.

  

1966

Indira Ghandi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India.

  

1966

The Jockey Club allow women to hold training licences.

  

1967

The first mammography machine is developed.

  

1967

The cyclist Beryl Burton (1937-1996) beats all competitors, including Britain's championship men, in a 12-hour continuous cycle race in Otley, West Yorkshire. This was the first time a woman had ever won a mixed athletic race.

  

1967

Designer Laura Ashley (1925-1985) opens her first shop in Kensington. 

  

1967

A research student Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1947) discovers the first pulsar. In 1974 it was her supervisor who received the Nobel Prize.

  

1967

Under the new Abortion Law, abortion in Britain under medical supervision is made legal within certain criteria.

  

1967

Dame Cicely Saunders (born 1918) founds the first hospice, St Christopher's, in Sydenham South London.

  

1968

850 women machinists at Fords of Dagenham go on strike for equal pay. This paves the way for the Equal Pay act two years later.

  

1969

The Women's Football Association is formed with 44 member clubs more on women's football

  

1969

Golda Meir (1898-1978) becomes Israel 's first woman Prime Minister.

  

1969

Six days before her 22nd birthday, Bernadette Devlin becomes the youngest ever member of the British parliament.

  

1969

The Representation of the People Act extends the vote to all men and women over the age of 18 years.

  

1969

Margaret Atwood's first novel The Edible Woman is published.

  


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