Suffragettes come out of the shadow 100 years later

Ⓒ AFP – NIKLAS HALLE’N – | (ID) The activist Amika George, the mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the historian Lucy Worsley and the deputy mayor of culture and creativity Justine Simons in Trafalgar Square in London, on February 6, 2018

Treated in their time as “hysterical” or “savage”, and caricatured and imprisoned, the suffragettes, whose struggle allowed British women to achieve the right to vote 100 years ago, are finally being rehabilitated.

On Tuesday, the life-size portraits of these militants, anonymous in many cases, will be displayed in Trafalgar Square, in central London, the usual scene of their demonstrations at the beginning of the 20th century.

In spring (boreal), the statue of Millicent Fawcett, heroine of the feminist cause, will be unveiled before the Palace of Westminster.

Share space with other great figures in the history of the country as Winston Churchill or Gandhi.

Unlike the suffragettes, who advocated direct action, breaking windows or burning buildings, Millicent Fawcett rejected violence.

Helen Pankhurst, the great-great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, the most famous of the suffragettes, supports the tribute to Fawcett.

“The reason I support the statue is that they have been forgotten, they fell into oblivion of the story, and I think they should be part of it,” he explained at a meeting with the media organized by the Foreign Press Association (FPA). ) in London.

If Emmeline Pankhurst and her three daughters – Christabel, Adela and Sylvia – remain the figurehead of the suffragettes, thousands of women of all ages and social backgrounds campaigned with determination to obtain the right to vote.

Almost 1,300 were imprisoned and some were forcibly fed after they started hunger strikes.

– “Question the rules” –

“On its own, Emmeline would never have achieved what she achieved,” said Helen Pankhurst, also an activist and author of a book on the history and legacy of the feminist movement.

Ⓒ AFP – NIKLAS HALLE’N – | The mayor of London Sadiq Khan (I) and the historian Lucy Worsley pose in Trafalgar Square next to representations of members of the movement for suffrage, in London, on February 6, 2018

Emmeline is a “symbol”: “she was beautiful, charismatic and her physical smallness contrasted with the strength of her character, but without the others, and especially her daughters, nothing would have happened,” she said.

Among the forgotten activists that today will be vindicated are Alice Hawkins, a footwear factory worker and leader of the feminist movement in Leicester (central England).

His statue was inaugurated on the weekend in the same place where this mother of six children harangued the crowd.

A deserved recognition, considered his great-great-granddaughter, Kate Barrt: “the suffragists were not feminists of high class and with a lot of free time, but non-conformist and intrepid personalities (…), of all economic and social origins”, said to Sky News.

In London, the prestigious National Portrait Gallery exhibits “The Venus of the Mirror”, the famous painting of Diego Velázquez that was lacerated with a butcher knife by Anne Hunt, in July 1914, after a new arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Hunt was sentenced to six months in prison. After their action, the women were asked to leave their bags in the museum’s cloakroom.

The Museum of London also remembers these women exhibiting the objects with which they used to chain themselves or break windows, but also postcards, dolls and other things created and sold to collect money, showing their talent to raise funds.

According to Helen Pankhurst, “there are many parallels” between yesterday’s suffragists and today’s feminists: “they continue to question the rules”, “they keep saying ‘enough'”.

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