Suffragettes, Women and Manchester - Saturday 13 October
PANKHURST, Becker, Kenney and many, many more heroines of the female suffrage movement in Manchester are commemorated in this stroll around interiors, buildings and landmarks where women fought for representation. There are stories of reasoned argument, attacks on paintings, arrests and the raising of the Votes for Women banner on 13 October, 1905. 2018 is the centenary of women gaining the vote.
Emmeline Pankhurst is the central figure on this tour.
Her mother and father were both radical in their beliefs, although this hadn’t prevented the father surveying his sleeping daughter one night and muttering sadly, “What a pity she wasn’t born a lad.” Still, the unconventional Emmeline inherited her parents' radicalism and, after a failed love affair in Paris, married the much older Manchester lawyer, Richard Pankhurst, a committed socialist. Richard died suddenly in 1898.
Emmeline, a member of the Independent Labour Party, carried on, now a single parent, becoming the Registrar of Births and Deaths at Rusholme to support herself and four children. In 1903, frustrated by the lack of constitutional progress made by the existing female suffrage movement, which had been led by another remarkable Mancunian, Lydia Becker, she set up the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in her home on Nelson Street. After raising the banner of ‘Votes for Women’ in the Free Trade Hall the movement became militant. as two members of the Union, Annie Kenney and Emmeline's daughter, Christabel (pictured below), were arrested.
“You have two babies very hungry and wanting to be fed," Emmeline Pankhurst would say. "One baby is a patient baby, and waits indefinitely until its mother is ready to feed it. The other baby is an impatient baby and cries lustily, screams and kicks and makes everybody unpleasant until it is fed. Well, we know perfectly well which baby is attended to first. That is the whole history of politics. You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under.”
Delayed by the outbreak of the First World War, women over 30 got the vote in 1918. Women, over 21, gained the franchise in 1928 – giving them voting equality with men finally.
It's only fitting that Emmeline Pankhurst will gain a statue in Manchester in the next couple of years from a design by Hazel Reeves. This shows Emmeline public speaking using a chair as a rostrum.
Meet 3pm outside Central Library, St Peter’s Square