A long, long time ago, in a faraway land, women weren’t allowed to vote. But then the knights in shining armour came and fought against the big, bad patriarchy so that the damsels in distress could have their voices heard. And they lived happily, ever after.
And by that, I mean a mere 100 years ago, in the UK, women weren’t allowed to vote until the suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst came and rallied for equal voting rights. After much fighting, women finally gained equal voting rights.
Men make the moral code and they expect women to accept it. They have decided that it is entirely right and proper for men to fight for their liberties and their rights, but that it is not right and proper for women to fight for theirs.
Emmeline Pankhurst was born as Emmeline Goulden on July 15th, 1858. She was born into a family of relatively radical thinkers who supported women’s suffrage. Despite this, they also subtly discouraged her from pursuing the same paths as her male counterparts, saying: “What a pity she wasn’t born a lad.”
From a young age, Emmeline was well involved in women’s suffrage. One of her idols Lydia Becker, who was secretary of Manchester National Society for Women’s Suffrage, editor of Women’s Suffrage Journal and a large part of the Victorian women’s rights movement. When she was 14. she attended her first suffrage meeting, lead by Lydia Becker. This meeting influenced her greatly and left her “a conscious and confirmed” suffragist.
In 1889, Emmeline founded the Women’s Franchise League, which fought to allow married women to vote. In October 1903, WSPU was founded, thanks to Emmeline Pankhurst. This group was the first to be called suffragettes as opposed to suffragists. Emmeline’s two daughters, Sylvia and Christabel, were a big part of this organisation.
In 1918, women above the age of 30 gained the right to vote. It wasn’t until the Equal Franchise Act was passed in 1928 that women were given equal voting rights as men, meaning that they could vote once they were 21. Soon after, Emmeline Pankhurst died, on the 14th of June 1928.
Thanks to suffragettes such as Emmeline Pankhurst, I have never had to live in a world where I did not have equal voting rights. This said, however, as a female, I have experienced sexism throughout my life, though not as much as Emmeline Pankhurst would’ve because we live in different eras. However, because of how Emmeline Pankhurst is of European descent and I’m Chinese, I also face different forms of oppression from Emmeline Pankhurst.
The one thing that really connects us, however, is not the fact that we are both female or that we have both been discouraged from doing things because we’re female, but that we are both passionate about equality between all genders and sexes.
Through studying Emmeline Pankhurst, I hope to learn more about the history of Feminism and social justice. By doing this project, I hope to improve my public speaking skills. In particular, I hope to become better at giving a clear speech and focusing on my enunciation skills and speaking slower.
Emmeline Pankhurst by Paula Bartley
Emmeline Pankhurst: a Biography by June Purvis