Chwarae Teg’s Wonderful Welsh Women campaign to feature Aberystwyth alumnus Iris De Freitas

22nd March 2019
Chwarae Teg, Wales’s leading gender equality charity, will be featuring Aberystwyth University alumnus Iris de Freitas as part of its ‘Wonderful Welsh Women’ campaign.

Iris de Freitas was born on the 26th of October 1896 in British Guiana (current day Guyana). In December 1918 she came to Aberystwyth to study at the university. She resided in Alexandra Hall, the first purpose-built female accommodation in the U.K. and studied botany, Latin and other modern languages, and law and jurisprudence. She was also the Vice-President of the Student’s Representative Council as well as the President of the Women’s Sectional Council.

In 1922, she graduated with a BA but continued to work with the university and later qualified for her LLB in 1927. She eventually returned to her home and was admitted to the bar, becoming the first woman to practice law in the Caribbean, and was the first female prosecutor of a murder trial there.

Her Welsh legacy was nearly lost to time had it not been for an Aberystwyth alumni stumbling across a postcard of her in her graduation gowns in 2016. This sparked an investigation into her life by the university.

Aberystwyth University honoured her by renaming a room after her in the Hugh Owens library. The official opening was on 8 March 2016 for international women’s day.

Chwarae Teg’s ‘Wonderful Welsh Women’ campaign aims to raise the profile of female role models in Wales by showcasing them across the charity’s digital media platforms.

“Iris de Freitas has an incredible story, both in terms of her achievements in being the first woman to practice law and to prosecute a murder trial in the Caribbean, and in terms of how her Welsh legacy was rediscovered by chance.

“We hope that our showcasing of her achievements in Chwarae Teg’s Wonderful Welsh Women campaign will be a fitting tribute to her and that her legacy will inspire young women studying at Aberystwyth and across Wales today, and encourage them to aim high as she did.”

Helen Antoniazzi
Strategic Lead – Policy and communications