When the first British women gained the right to vote in February 1918 celebrations were very muted because the Great War was still raging. Sylvia Pankhurst in her book The Suffragette Movement said: “the sorrows of the world conflict precluded jubilations”
So a century later we should celebrate the triumph as fully as we can. However women were not given the vote on the same terms as men until a decade after the act was passed – on 2nd July 1928 the Second Representation of the People Act was passed into law. In a cruel twist of fate, Emmeline Pankhurst the leader of the militant WSPU died on the 14th June 1928 just 18 days before equal suffrage rights were granted.
One victory led to another. The bar to women running for parliament was quickly removed, and the first female MP was elected that year (though, as an Irish republican, Constance Countess Markievicz chose not to join the Commons). The next year, Nancy Lady Astor was the first woman to take her seat in parliament.
Yet progress for women has often felt painfully slow. In 1982 when Harriet Harman was elected there were still only 19 female MPs. The 2017 election was the first time more than 200 women were elected, 208 out of 650 seats. If you speak to female MPs many worry about the murder of Jo Cox, the climate of vitriol on social media, sexual harassment and it is still so hard to balance child caring responsibilities with a political career hence women who have no children are often over-represented at the top.
Here in Ipswich Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices are a group of women’s organisations who have come together to plan a Festival on the 6th October at Suffolk University and are organising EqualiTeas as part of the events leading up to the festival. The festival will highlight and provide women with an opportunity to have access to local politics and democracy and to encourage women to get involved and most importantly to register to vote.
So true to the spirit of the suffragettes – who came from all kinds of political traditions – let us celebrate 100 years of the suffragette movement and all that achieved.
On Saturday 7th July Cllrs Fisher, Goldsmith & Xhaferaj accepted an invitation to visit the exciting Emmaus project in Dales Road.
Emmaus Suffolk is a new and different way of increasing the chances for the homeless and long term unemployed in Suffolk, entering back into work and have a more fulfilling life. The facilities centre around a thriving second-hand store with the recent addition of a little coffee shop selling a range of drinks and cake (I can recommend the Coffee & Walnut). There is a Workshop where people can upcycle used products, some of which were displayed in the Garden. A vital service are the washing machines which will soon be upgraded to industrial machines with extra work being undertaken to install shower facilities.
After a great tour we were treated to tea and cake in the wonderful garden you can see in the picture. All the work is done by volunteers and it provides benefits on so many levels.
A lot of this work is possible due to funding from the North-West Area Committee. Did you know that each year we have £15,000 to spend on community projects in the North West, which is Castle Hill, Whitton & Whitehouse? Each year we sponsor lots of great causes, some a few hundred pounds and some a few thousand.
This is your money, if you have any ideas, or projects that you working on but need extra help with get in touch. Local Conservative Councillors value the communities that we all share, let us help you make them better.
Rushmere Councillor Stephen Ion took time out when visiting the Ipswich Mela in Christchurch Park to speak to Ipswich & East Suffolk Samaritans about the important work they do for local people.
Stephen said: “It was great to talk to the local volunteers and find out more about the work they do. The Samaritans provide a vital service for people when things are getting to them and they need someone to talk to, they don’t have to be suicidal as many people think.
People may also not know that all their local people are volunteers and that they have to raise all their funding locally.
That’s why they are always on the look out for more people to help. You can help in a number of ways, so it’s not just about being a listening volunteer, they need people to help fundraise, to help with admin and IT and many other things.
No of us knows when we may need a friendly voice to talk to and as a representative of people in Rushmere Ward I want to say thank you to the volunteers for the work that they do on behalf of local people.”