Pumpkins and Privates – a smear test/Halloween mashup

The winning pumpkin is second from the right

This month we were discussing smear tests, as part of one of this year’s WI Campaigns “Five Minutes That Matter”.

Formed in 1915, the WI has a long history of campaigning on a wide range of issues.  WI campaigns are about changing things for the better and tackling the issues that matter to members. Members are at the heart of the WI and they play a central role in bringing issues onto the WI’s national agenda through our public affairs and campaigning.

From equal pay to climate change, from gaps in the midwifery workforce to the plight of the honey bee, WI members have embraced a diverse set of challenges and built a reputation for the WI as a practical and ambitious organisation that doesn’t shy away from tricky issues.

The ‘Don’t Fear the Smear’ resolution was proposed (and selected)  on the basis that cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives a year, yet attendance is currently at it’s lowest for a decade.  The WI is campaigning to try and improve the numbers, and stop women dying unnecessarily.


We started the meeting with a discussion over the need for smear tests and the barriers that women face.  There is loads of interesting material regarding the campaign on the WI website on the subject.  Our resident Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Dr Rachel Harding, then talked us through some of the proper medical facts (including a quick fire quiz!) and how the screening process is currently changing.  She then opened up the floor to questions, and it was great to see that people were happy to share their own experiences and ask some questions, and it wasn’t all super awkward (we had provided everyone with a Halloween-themed cocktail to try and alleviate some of the awkwardness…)

We then went for a bit of a change of tone, and embarked on a themed pumpkin carving competition!  In teams, we were challenged to create the most biologically accurate carving of a woman’s vulva, vagina or uterus.  The competition was fierce!

Once everyone was finished, we lit the lanterns (turns out you can just stick a phone with the torch on inside – no need for candles – which is good, as we hadn’t thought to bring any…) and Rachel had the task of judging!  Sophie, Bethan and Cris won the day (although I seem to have failed to take a decent picture of their entry)!


We were also joined by Elizabeth from the Hackney Citizen who has written a great article about the evening.  Check it out! https://www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/2019/10/18/beyond-jam-jerusalem-womens-institute-hackney-wick/