Emmeline suffered ridicule, rejection, endured horrendous prison sentences and barbaric force-feeding so women would finally get the vote. The thing I found so emotional and inspiring about this woman was the simple fact that she never gave up. She had one goal, and that was all she focused on. She led by example, never expected her followers to do anything she wouldn’t do and kept morale high when time after time Parliament rejected their requests.
She has simply inspired me and also made me ask the question, how far have we come? In this year of #metoo and #50/50 movement we can blatantly see we still have so very far to go and but what can I personally do about it?
With every decision I make now, I honestly feel I have a little more confidence. I think to myself, if Emmeline and the Suffragettes could endure so much pain and suffering for my liberty as a modern, equal woman, then the least I can do is live like one. We are told by our still patriarchal society what to look like, how to behave and what our limitations are, and after making this film I have stopped listening to those voices and set my own limitations and listen to my own voice. I surround myself with positive like-mined people and look inside myself to try and live a life that makes me and my family happy.
Getting the vote for women seemed beyond achievable over a hundred years ago but it happened, so, nothing it seems is impossible.
It’s completely liberating, I urge you to try to #BeMoreEmmeline.
Sally Lindsay is a producer and actor.
Emmeline Pankhurst: The Making of a Militant, (a Saffron Cherry TV production), BBC One (North West) Friday 8th June, 7:30pm. Then on BBC 4 the week of 18th June.
Who was Emmeline Pankhurst?
She was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. She was initially refused entry into the Labour party because she was a woman, and went on to form the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), an independent, all-woman organisation dedicated to “deeds not words” in the fight for women’s rights. They used physical tactics – smashing windows and arson, and were imprisoned many times. She and her group used hunger strikes as a way to fight for better conditions, and were often forcibly fed. After the First World War, Emmeline changed the WSPU to the Women’s Party, dedicated to fighting for women’s equality in marriage laws, job opportunities and pay. She later joined the Conservative Party and continued her fight, but sadly died two weeks before the Conservative Government’s Representation of the People Act in 1928, giving the vote to all women (married or single) over the age of 21.
Why is everyone talking about her?
This year marks 100 years since women (over the age of 30) were allowed to vote, and paved the way for the suffrage movement.
What did Emmeline ever do for me?
She, and women like her, were a leading force in the fight for equal rights for women. It is because of her that we have many of the things we now take for granted – being able to vote, work in a job of our choice, have equal rights in law - being just a few.
What does the word suffrage mean?
It simply means the legal right to vote. The term suffragette was used as an insult towards women who used extreme methods to fight for their equal rights, as opposed to suffragists who used moderate, legal means.