Reflections on the Dangerous Women Project

By Dangerous Women Project contributor Rachel Roberts. Portrait of the artist’s niece. Artist’s comment: “Her face expresses a compelling mixture of wonder and determination (I asked her to think about herself as a ‘big girl’), which sends a positive message to all girls and women; the future is bright.”

Over the year between International Women’s Day 2016 and 2017, we published almost 400 posts in answer to the question:

What does it mean to be a dangerous woman?


During that time, the project has become more than a sum of its posts. It’s become a community.

And so, to cap off this stage of the project, we thought it only fitting that we feature a range of voices. So this, dear readers, is the final ‘official’ post in the project, made up of our favourite responses to the question:

What did the dangerous women project mean to you?


In solidarity,


The Dangerous Women Project Team





A daily pause in my inbox dedicated to thinking and learning about some of the different types of experience women have had throughout history and across continents; philosophies I’d never considered, perspectives that challenged and brightened my day. And, as a writer, a chance to share something troubling the forefront of my mind. Viccy Adams
The Dangerous Women Project stirred up in me a voice previously silent. A gutsy voice that questioned ideologies surrounding feminity. It gave me confidence in the woman I am choosing to be. Dorcas Agbogun
For me, Dangerous Women meant space. Space that wasn’t sidelined or belittled: space that was creative and fierce. Space to identify challenges. Space to delve into little known histories of women around the world. Space to be intrigued, fascinated and shocked by the experiences of others. Space to recognise discrimination and stand against it. Space to understand why women with opinions are such a powerful force. It also meant the space to tell my own story: space to speak up and know I was being heard. Joanne Bell
A year of provocations from and about dangerous women, encouraging me to speak up and out as dangerous woman, for myself and for other women.

A year of initially watching and then joining a growing community of dangerous women who demonstrate the power of collaboration.

A year of learning about dangerous women from throughout history and from around the world and coming to an understanding that there are many ways to be dangerous.

A year of celebrating dangerous women leading to a celebration with dangerous women to mark the next stage.

Sandra Cairncross
Voice. My post explored Homeric women’s weaving and words. It uncovered ‘secret discussions’ in the material world of Homeric epic, speech hidden in objects. Through things, silenced women express themselves and negotiate their own agency. Silenced women—then, as now. I go to evening class to learn the fiddle, and the group are all women. Why? Through this thing, this instrument, we find our voice—music and materiality merge, and we come out louder. The female coded communications that cannot be silenced—this is what a year of Dangerous Women meant to me. Lilah Grace Canevaro
A year of dangerous women meant a time to think in a way that was largely unexpected. Annie Chalker
The Year of DANGEROUS WOMEN filled my head and my heart with tales of women whose quiet courage, audacious behavior, or willingness to put themselves in danger have made and are making a difference in societies around the globe.

It energized me, it angered me, it strengthened my determination to continue to try to effect change however daunting the circumstances, and it thrilled me.

It offered counsel on the importance of passing these stories on to others as we give voice to those still unheard. And it roared the folly of history that neglects herstory.

susan c dessel
Learning about so many brilliant women, the subjects and the writers, then realising that I am part of this amazing community. Huge inspiration! Sarah Dyer
It meant finding my own voice and being confident in the collective voices and experiences of women making an impact. It meant knowing that I wasn’t alone in some of my thoughts and struggles and that there are many of us that will continue to fight for what we believe in. I printed out a copy of my post and continue to reread it if I am not feeling particularly ‘dangerous’ that day and need to find my voice again. The project reminds me who I am. Sandra Engstrom
The Dangerous Women Project has been an integral force in furthering women’s voices and perspectives into all sectors of society. Leading the way in supporting the freedom of expression that is due all women, the DWP has provided an amazing platform for our objections as we continue to rage against the injustices of a male-dominated world. Let us hope that as our collective defiance gives rise to a new era of empowerment for ourselves, our communities and the wider world, we stay focused on positive social, economic and political change for the greater good of all. Such is our power! Pegi Eyers
It has meant connecting with women who live in different places, and lived in different times. To see that there are themes that resonate across all of our experiences, and that we need to work as hard as ever to ensure that women are able to live their lives and thrive. Lauren Gawne
A year of dangerous women opened my eyes to dangers that I had not imagined.  A year of dangerous women led me to places that I had not been and to experiences that I had not shared. A year of dangerous women showed me that women can be dangerous in many ways. It showed me that women can be dangerous while being quiet.  It showed me that poetry can be dangerous. It showed me that I can be a dangerous woman. Jackie Gulland
Almost every day, and certainly at least once a week, I’ve learned or been reminded of how ‘dangerous’ women make the world a better place. The project drew me to the counter-intuitive idea of danger being progressive, a force for good.
In my own small corner of the world, legal education in northern England, I’ve seen and thought about the women I know (students, my daughters, colleagues, my family, my friends), and what they do, in new ways. Above all, for me, a year of dangerous women has been a project of reflection into action.
Tamara Hervey
When women’s history is a long tale of the same battles having to be fought, over and over again – When every woman who achieves something is declared the ‘first woman to…’  When individual female voices are drowned out by the background growl of patriarchy… When our attempts to share our collective experience are constantly challenged, broken down into lone accounts and thereby disempowered or silenced altogether – how essential it has been to have a project which gathers the multiplicity of women’s voices into one space and names it Dangerous. Alison Joseph
I am a second-year law student in the US, focusing my studies in international human rights law and would love to use my degree to work toward equal human rights for all women. I’ve been patted on the forehead, told my ambitions are too high, and been verbally attacked by some of the people closest to me about betraying my duties as a mother and a wife, and yet I persist. This project has inspired me to continue being a dangerous woman and to raise my daughter in the ways so she will know that she can change the world. Keesee
It was amazing to have my work selected. As an emerging writer it was incredibly encouraging to be chosen and to find my words amongst the work of so many excellent writers. It gave me courage to step further out and submit my work in other places. Thank you so much for believing in me! Jonatha Kottler
Like a time-traveller I am regenerated.  Half way along the Cleveland Way, North Yorkshire, in August 2016, trying to find a new sense of direction, I found the Dangerous Women project online. I completed the walk (over 100 miles, the most I have ever done on my own) and later contributed two pieces myself. As a writer and as a woman I have found the whole project inspiring, especially  the diversity of the posts. I found my way. I am a Dangerous Woman. Janet Lees
A year of being a dangerous woman meant to me – firstly, it was a life examined: by collating all my experiences, I realized that I have within me a boldness to deal with adversity, and which I now know will serve me well in the future. Secondly, a most surprising number of people contacted me having read the article, from Japan to a school on the rural borders of China. One outcome was that this led me to give a series of lectures at the school on women, feminism, role models, the girls’ future. I treasure being linked to my Alma Mater, the University of Edinburgh, in this project. Judith Mackay
Our mother/daughter collaboration focused our thoughts on the purpose of scholarship, on what we do and why: conceptualizing the University as a motive force for real-world transformation and recognizing that social justice is rarely possible without challenge and disruption. Love and transgression. Lesley and Catriona McAra
Thank you very much for the entire team of Dangerous Women Project for giving the opportunity to speak about all these ongoing issues in today’s world. It is very important to give voice to the voiceless, the oppressed, the underprivileged. There is so much arrogance, hatred and misunderstanding that is normalized, so hopefully the Dangerous Women Project is one of the efforts to expands perspectives and perceptions. Ildiko Nova
This last year has taught me bravery. It’s taught me that there are many different hidden stories and they deserve to be heard. Thank you. Christina Neuwirth
I was proud to have my essay, “Dancing While Married,” included in this great project. It has been eye-opening, moving and refreshing to see so many incredible women from all over fighting and succeeding in so many different ways. It reminds me of how far we’ve come and how far we still have yet to go. Thank you for allowing me to contribute to this empowering endeavor! Eloísa Pérez-Lozano
I met many new brilliant women writers. Some of whom I contacted and found that we can make creative collaborations.

The postings led me to Dangerous Women and histories which enrich our community.

My own work, which told about my meetings with Martha Gellhorn,  allowed me to reveal a dangerous writer to new readers.

I love this title of Dangerous Women. It  encapsulates our daring, achievement and the ability to show our lives as women. I was brought up to be seen and not heard. To counteract this directive is a wonderful act.

Julia Pascal
A year of Dangerous Women meant walking an intersection and stopping, freeze framing the moment, looking to see who else was crossing, who was watching.  Then, dawdling in slowed motion, delaying my foot landing on the pavement of the other side, knowing it’d restart traffic. Heather Pearson

We hadn’t seen him for weeks.

I had just slipped into the hot pool,

was lying there sipping iced nectar,

listening to the nightingales.

He appeared out of nowhere

in complete meltdown

bellowing my name.

I stood my ground

without a towel

It was only an apple for God’s Sake!

And I only had one bite.

Get over it.

He crept away, and I

stepped back into the pool

It was a fundamental moment

Pauline Prior-Pitt
I’ve learned a lot about women of the past, including in Edinburgh, my city. I’ve understood more about women of the present: those who are silenced, those who speak over silencing, and those who ignore it. Thanks. And now don’t we need to change the way we talk about men and women? @manwhohasitall does it through humour, but we all need to talk about working dads, men’s children, and men’s need for affordable childcare and flexible working, otherwise nothing will change for women. And talk about women as we now talk about men. Change our discourse to change society’s actions. Cathy Ratcliff
This project of focussed attention on the stories of audacious women and girls gives me hope that a brighter future awaits; one where women and girls everywhere can realise their full potential. Rachel Roberts
When I started writing my piece, ‘She’s Dangerous,’ little did I know that it would enable me to not only explore the prejudices against certain kinds of women in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan but also question my own beliefs and prejudices. It has been a journey of education and enlightenment. I shared the links to the Dangerous Women Project with journalists, filmmakers and writers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. I urged my Afghan male and female students to write. They did not. It wasn’t because they didn’t have anything to share but because they weren’t sure their English was good enough. They promised they’ll write once they’ve mastered the language. Thank you for helping me help them. Eisha Sarkar
It meant finding out about buried-in-plain-sight history, amazing pioneers around the world, and important work happening today, from an incredible range of people. It meant making connections, feeling like I was part of something huge, and when my submission was accepted it gave me a massive confidence boost at just the right time. Jacqueline Saville
As a visual narrator I find writing words quite a chore. Trying to articulate what it means to be a “Dangerous woman” was daunting. I knew I wanted to be part of this project with my visuals, just didn’t know how to piece it all together. I thought of ways to describe what this means to me, to add visuals and words that would work. But they all felt “proper”, almost like words and ideas that I am meant to have. Until one day I decided that for me, being a dangerous woman is standing in my own light and shadow-  against all odds. And this is what this project has given me, the strength to be just me. Heshani Sothiraj Eddleson
Finding out that my voice matters, and that it is maginified through the hundreds of other voices that matter so much also. My perspectives on feminism have been joyfully altered and broadened. alice tarbuck
I’ve felt dangerous since our infant daughter, Victoria was diagnosed with a rare, terminal illness. The fear in my eyes reflected back as pity. Now, it’s dangerous being the woman I’ve become. We fought to get our baby the right care to be pain-free as possible. As Victoria had difficulty making nerve insulation, this felt impossible. Victoria died at nine months old and was at peace. We demanded the best. We were dangerous voices for her. Being a dangerous woman on the project was wonderful. It’s again given me a sense of empowerment and strength. Thank you. Sharon Thompson
I have been immensely proud and thrilled to be involved in The Dangerous Women Project, which has meant a great deal to me both personally and professionally.  My article, which spoke up for women who choose never to have children, ended up striking a chord in women from all walks of life. I was contacted and sometimes even thanked by women who felt this was one of the last remaining taboos and have thoroughly enjoyed reading other women’s thoughts, feelings, expressions and passions; The Dangerous Women Project  has been a fascinating and groundbreaking one. Thank you! Jasmine Tonie
Having my view of what it means to be a dangerous woman COMPLETELY BLOWN OUT OF THE WATER.  Amazing, passionate, enthusiastic women writing about amazing, passionate, enthusiastic women.   From all over the world.  I’ve looked forward to reading them all.  Particular favourite, Doris Lessing.  But I loved her anyway.  If you do it again, can I do Andrea Dunbar? Jo West
A year of dangerous women meant connecting with fascinating and important people and ideas, at a time in history when the connections that facilitate support and understanding are increasingly being ignored – these are the necessary building blocks of a functional, progressive society. Anonymous
An opportunity for women to say FUCK YOU to stupid patriarchy that tells us to always shrink ourselves, to sit back and always let the men speak first. No excuses were needed for our reading, our writing, our thoughts – in a way the project was a collective re-claiming (even if temporary) of spaces. Anonymous
The idea behind the Dangerous Women Project was fantastic, and I’ve really enjoyed reading all the thoughtful and varied responses. My article on Anne Boleyn was featured back in July – as my first paid writing submission, this definitely meant a lot to me, and being able to share my thoughts on a dangerous woman I had long researched was a wonderful opportunity. Rachel
A year of dangerous women has meant…a great deal to me !

This wonderful initiative has provided a fantastic and renewed source of knowledge and inspiration. The incredible variety of views and topics is a living testimony to the relevance of this amazing, powerful and brilliantly creative project.

Heartfelt thanks to all the Dangerous Women team who came up with this truly empowering and deeply thought-provoking project, and made all this possible.