30 Days of FIERCE, Day 10; Inspiring Women - Emmeline Pankhurst

September 18, 2017

 

 


Emmeline Pankhurst helped shape modern society. She lead the British suffragette movement; the campaign to allow women to vote and spent most of her life involved in politics in many forms. 

 

Emmeline was one of those women who wouldn't stand for social norms if she didn't think they were right. She was prepared to put herself in danger to fight for what she believed in and helped change the way in which society viewed women, to a large extent. 

 

 

 

Emmeline was born in Manchester, in 1858 to political parents and was introduced to the idea of women's suffrage at the age of 14. She founded the Women's Franchise League, which campaigned for votes for both married and unmarried women, before founding the Women's Social and Political Union in 1903. This would be the organisation which would make her infamous. The WSPU was known for their slogan 'deeds not words' and members would often smash windows and assault police officers. This would land members, including Emmeline, in prison from time to time.

The group later took to arson as a tactic and tensions between them and the government grew.

 

However, with the advent of World War I, the WSPU turned their focus on to encouraging women to take up industrial roles to help the war effort, with the immediate cessation of violent suffrage action.

 

 

 
After all their campaigning, the WSPU were successful, with the Representation of the People Act granting votes to all women over the age of 30, in 1918. Ten years later, just weeks after Emmeline's death, this would be extended to all women over the age of 21. 


To dedicate your life to pursuing the rights and social justices of women, especially in an age where women were to be 'seen and not heard', obey their husbands and had little to no rights or property of their own, took a huge amount of courage, defiance and conviction. While Emmeline was a complicated character, who later joined the Conservative Party, there is no doubt that without the constant calling out of the lack of women's rights, we may have had to wait even longer for any kind of suffrage. 

 

 

 

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