How women won the vote

We have come a long way, but there is still a long way to go. That was the overall message taken from our ‘how women won the vote’ exhibition, which closed yesterday.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of people visited our ‘How women won the vote’ exhibition which marks the centenary anniversary of (some, not all) women receiving the right to vote.

In 1918, The Representation of the People Act gave only the women who owned property and was over the age of 30 the right to vote. It wasn’t until ten years later, in 1928, when the Equal Franchise Act passed that all women received the same voting rights as men.

Our exhibition was officially opened on Friday 23 March by Dame Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, who spoke passionately alongside Ruth Berkley from WHiST (Women’s Health in South Tyneside).

At the event Dame Vera paid tribute to the women who drove the movement for suffrage, detailing the brutal punishments often carried out to suffragettes.

“What they achieved a century ago was in many ways a small change,” said Dame Vera at the event, “but it signalled a profound shift in attitude. These women played a great part in changing the agenda.”

Along with clips and songs from both Mary Poppins (1964) and Suffragette (2015), our exhibition featured an unofficial ballot box, where visitors voted for who they thought was the most influential women from the exhibition and after weeks of voting, visitors decided that Emily Wilding-Davison was the most influential woman from the exhibition, followed by Emmeline Pankhurst in second and Lizzie Crow in third.

Emily Davison is probably best known of all the Suffragettes, but did you know her family came from Morpeth, Northumberland? In the fight to win women the vote Emily was arrested nine times, went on hunger strike seven times and was forcibly fed on 49 occasions.

On the 4th June 1913, she attended the Epsom Derby where she ran out in front to of King Edward VII’s horse. She was knocked over by the horse and both Davison and the jockey were injured. The jockey was knocked unconscious but survived. Emily, however, died days later in hospital.

Her funeral was attended more than 5,000 Suffragettes and crowds of people lined the route of the procession. She is remembered as being the only woman to give her life in the cause of women’s suffrage.

“What they achieved a century ago was in many ways a small change,” said Dame Vera at our opening event, “but it signalled a profound shift in attitude. These women played a great part in changing the agenda.”

“If there is one message women should take away from this exhibition,” said Dame Vera, “it is vote, vote, vote.”

 


Emma Ormiston, Marketing & Communications