Suffragette stories come out of the shadows

AFP
The Suffragettes risked imprisonment and were dubbed "wild" in their campaign for women's rights to vote, but a century on their stories are being brought out of the shadows.
AFP
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A hundred years to the day since voting rights were first granted to women in Britain, images of the activists behind the momentous occasion will go on display in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The Suffragettes risked imprisonment and were dubbed “wild” in their campaign for women’s rights to vote, but a century on their stories are being brought out of the shadows.

A hundred years to the day since voting rights were first granted to women in Britain, images of the activists behind the momentous occasion will go on display in London’s Trafalgar Square.

The outdoor exhibition on Tuesday, taking place where Suffragettes once held their rallies, is one of numerous events across Britain to celebrate the movement.

Later this year a statue of Millicent Fawcett, a heroine of the campaign, will be placed in nearby Parliament Square alongside other historic figures such as former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. 

Fawcett was a “Suffragiste,” a campaigner for voting rights through non-violent action, as opposed to the Suffragettes who advocated direction action to advance their cause. 

But according to Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of celebrated Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, their peaceful campaign should not be forgotten.

While Emmeline Pankhurst and her three daughters Christabel, Adela and Sylvia, were figureheads of the movement, thousands of women of all ages and social class joined in the campaign.

Close to 1,300 activists were arrested and some were force fed after going on hunger strike.

Describing her great-grandmother as the “icon” of the struggle, a charismatic figure with great strength of character, Helen Pankhurst nonetheless puts the campaign’s success down to the broader movement.

One of those unsung heroines was Alice Hawkins, a shoe factory machinist who led the campaign in Leicester, central England, where a statue of the Suffragette was unveiled. 

The Suffragettes are also being celebrated by the institutions they once attacked, such as London’s National Portrait Gallery where an image of its founder Thomas Carlyle which was slashed in July 1914 is back on display.


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