100 years since the powerful Suffragettes paved the way for Women and a right to vote 6 Feb 2018
Justice and judgement lie often a world apart – Emille Pankhurst
It’s not everyday something turns 100, particularly a landmark bill that changed the history of Britain.
Today I think its important that we take two minutes to reflect on the changes and the important role of the pioneering women who fought for the right of every women to vote. It’s a story that reminds us that by working together in the face of adversity we can overcome the biggest obstacles, as well as that we should never be silent when we know things are wrong.
On February 6th 1918, the representation of people bill became law adding around 8 million women over the age of 30 (and met various other conditions) to the voting roll. It took another 10 years for all British women win the same voting rights as men.
To get there Suffrages and Suffragettes chained themselves to railings, cut telephone wires and even vandalised a portrait of the Duke of Wellington with an Axe inside the National Gallery - causing major disruption in their plight to gain rights for women and immortalising themselves as some of the most famous activists in history.
The essential move to militancy was preached by the Emmeline Pankhurst, a radical who founded the Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU) and encouraged Women from all backgrounds to agitate in the cause for Liberty.
“We are here, not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers”
- Emille Pankhurst
Hundreds of Suffragettes were jailed, but they continued their protest in prison by refusing to eat. Many were forced-fed, a harsh practice that ended in 1913 with legislation that allowed authorities to release hunger striking females prisoners when they became too weak and re-arrested them when they had recovered. Pankhurst was jailed 11 times.
In the most shocking act, suffragette Emily Davison became a martyr, when she threw herself under the king’s horse at the 1913 Derby. She was convinced that one great tragedy would put an end to the intolerable torture of women. Cameras from across the world captured the images and cemented her place in history as a martyr for Women.
“To lay down life for friends, that is glorious, selfless, inspiring!
But to re-enact the tragedy of Calvary for generations yet unborn,
that is the last consummate sacrifice of the Militant” - Emily Davison
The cause won out. These women were the trailblazers who pressured the government to such an extent that in 1918 David Lloyd-George’s liberal government repented and handed extended the vote to Women over 30. Eventually 10 years later the franchise would be extended to all women.
Today is a great chance to take two minutes to think about these women. To remember all the sacrifices they made so that Women can enjoy some of the liberties we enjoy today. Its also a reminder that their work is not finished, and that by working together we can change the world for the better.
Thank you to all the women to carved the path and suffered for women of the future.
True activists !!!!!!!
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