What do the Suffragettes mean to me?

I have been a bit post happy today so apologies for that, but I couldn’t resist writing this one today as I have always been inspired by the Suffragette movement.  As we remember the suffragette movement and the sacrifices that women made 100 years ago so that I could have a vote I was thinking about what the the suffragettes mean to me?

I grew up in the 80s and 90s.  I went to an all girls convent school which was very traditional, but one thing they were quite ‘modern’ about was their approach to developing strong women. Our houses were all named after amazing women including Emeline Pankhurst. The history of the suffragettes was very much alive in that school. Our music director even wrote a whole musical named Rights in which we all played suffragettes (for those who went to my school and are reading this – it was a great show wasn’t it?). It was inspiring and I for one am captivated by the story of their struggle.  I know there was nothing romantic about hunger strike and imprisonment, but this period of history held some kind of mysticism and romance for me.  In a world where the heroine is always saved by her prince charming I was totalled engaged by the idea that this group of women were able to achieve so much.  Let’s face it the sisters were doing it for themselves; teenage me found that fascinating and motivating.

What did they do for me?

It’s hard to even comprehend that only 100 years ago women didn’t get to vote. That we were second class citizens. I grew up in a world where the right to education was never questioned. Where opportunities were available regardless of sex. Without the suffragettes this simply would not have been the case.  I am grateful for the things they made be the norm for me. It’s hard not to be amazed by the stand they took and even for those not injured or imprisoned the risk they took was extraordinary. In that patriarchy to stand up to their husbands and society is truly heroic. I’d like to think I would have been one of them, but would I have been brave enough? Who knows…

The main thing that the suffragettes did for me was create a choice. They were a catalyst for change.  Universal suffrage was the start of a society where a women’s destiny was not predetermined.  Where women don’t have to stay at home simply because of their gender. I have chosen that ‘traditional’ housewife role for my life. I am well educated and had a good career, but this is my choice. The point is I have a choice. I can be whatever I want to be and so can my girls.  It is ,in no small part, the Suffragettes who made this possible. 

Raising Girls

As I raise my girls I feel a responsibility to ensure they know how important it is to vote and exercise the rights they will certainly take for granted.  So I promise the Pankhursts, Emily Davison and all their cohorts that I will always vote. I promise to make sure my girls value their right to vote, the choices they have and know what the Suffragettes did for them.

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