100 years on, real women's equality remains elusive

Katrina Barker
February 7, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to issue a pardon to suffragettes and issue an apology to the women who fought for voting rights. Women did see some progress - in 1859 the first female doctor was registered, in 1878 women could graduate from university, and in 1882 women were allowed to keep inherited property and wages.

More than 1,000 women were arrested and many were imprisoned.

"The suffragettes and suffragists thought that getting the vote would be enough, that that would equal gender equality", Sadiq Khan told reporters in Trafalgar Square, where Britain's suffragettes famously rallied for women's right to vote.

But 21st-century feminists should not be dissuaded, she added, as there are "many parallels" with women's campaigns today. "Convictions of Suffragettes were politically motivated and bore no relation to the acts committed", Mr. Corbyn said in a press release.

"Some were severely mistreated and force-fed in prison post-conviction so a pardon could mean something to their families".

"There is also more to be done to raise awareness of the role played by Indian princess Sophia Duleep Singh in the Suffragette movement, and there are many suggestions of gay relationships within the movement that deserve wider exposure, but the history of those times - so often written by men - was coy at keeping official records of them".

The granddaughter of one of Ireland's foremost suffragettes has said it is women's place to take direct action for equality.

The Anti-Suffrage League was founded in 1908 by Mary Humphrey Ward, with support from two men: Lord Curzon and William Cremer.

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

Across 2018, this commemorates the centenary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave some women electoral voting in Britain for the very first time.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will lead a debate in Holyrood on Tuesday afternoon which will mark the 100 year anniversary, paying tribute to the personal sacrifice made by suffragettes.

"This is important to Rochdale because there were many people from Rochdale who were in the suffragette movement and apparently there was once a meeting at 2 Baillie Street. We have done it before of course for Alan Turing [the WW2 code-breaker who was convicted for being gay], I'm certainly going to look at individual cases". "Men internalise these norms that women are in some way inferior and women, that they are less good than men", she said.

Britain's suffragist movement emerged in the late 19th century, when Parliament extended the franchise to greater swaths of the male population while continuing to deny it to women. "She'd been Empress of the British Empire and most subjects hadn't kicked up a fuss about having an empress so why would they kick up a fuss about British women having a vote?"

Emmeline Pankhurst, long associated with the militant campaign for the vote, however embraced this name for the organisation she had set up in Manchester three years before.

Backbencher Jess Phillips said she would be thinking of murdered MP Jo Cox on the centenary, and revealed she sang a pro-suffragette song with colleague Anna Turley as they walked "arm in arm" to her memorial.

Some women - notably Emily Davison, who was trampled by King George V's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby - died for their cause.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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