Musings on Women
The end of April saw the historic unveiling of the first statue of a women to be erected in Parliament Square. The statue of Millicent Fawcett, by sculptor Gillian Wearing, commemorates the life of Millicent a suffragist and campaigner for women’s rights.
2019 should see the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, activist and leader of the British suffragette movement, erected in Manchester commissioned to another female artist and sculptor, Hazel Reeves.
Suffragette or Suffragist?
Now it wasn’t until just recently that I found out that there is a difference between a suffragette and a suffragist! I thought that they were one and the same but used in a different context, but no! It turns out that while Emmeline advocated “deeds, not words” – and probably the most extreme example of this is of course the suffragette Emily Dawson, who threw herself in front of the Kings Horse – Millicent was law abiding and used petitioning and lobbying of MP’s to move toward a constitutional change. This change of course and the common goal of both suffragettes and suffragists was for women’s rights and for women to have the right to vote, but with a very different way of going about things.
First British Female Physician
While Millicent was busy writing and petitioning, her sister, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, was on a journey of her own. As well as being a suffragist, Elizabeth became the first British female physician and surgeon. She was also the Mayor of Aldeburgh serving two terms in 1908 and 1909.
The emergency department at Ipswich Hospital is now located in “The Garrett Anderson Centre” opened in 2008 and obviously named after Elizabeth.
1918 saw their efforts rewarded when parliament passed an act that granted women over 30 years old with certain conditions the right to vote.
This therefore sees 2018 as the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.
100 Years Of Change
This last 100 years has seen significant changes instigated by and for women; the above-mentioned suffrage (right for women to vote) seems to be the major turning point, added to WWI and WWII when women were then also viewed differently, due to the necessity of undertaking more manual and physical jobs while men went to war, meant that the role that women played in society was able to shift towards being seen as more equal to men. However, there are some changes which took almost another 60 years to happen. For example, being able to spend their own money or drink alone in a public house. Having a sole mortgage in their own name and even opening a bank account in their own name (which only changed in 1975)
Life really has changed for women in Britain in this time and here’s to all the changes yet to come and whether we agree or disagree changes will inevitably happen.