This week saw the centenary of women getting the vote.
Well, if you were over 30 and married that is (the legislation did not add ‘ and only if you vote the same way as your husband’ but, for a long time, might well have done).
Doncaster, I’m proud to say, played a not insignificant part in achieving this landmark.
In 1913 the town became a base for the suffragette movement, It was,however, “somewhere that suffragettes were well advised to have bodyguards,” noted author Jill Liddington as she described how Violet Key-Jones and her (male) bodyguards were pelted with rotten eggs as she spoke in the town centre.
Sadly, not much has changed. If Violet were take to her soapbox today the reaction would be much the same - plus twitter abuse and trolling, the 21 century means to keep women in their place. We are heading towards fewer, not more women, in public life.Just last week Haringey Council leader Claire Kober stepped down amid allegations of sexist abuse and bullying and locally, Sheffield City Region would-be mayor, Labour’s Dan Jarvis tried and failed to get two women to throw their names into the hat.
The fight for equality and for women’s voices to be really heard is far from over; it’s right that we use this anniversary as a platform to continue the fight.
Rebel Daughters of Doncaster - part of the Donny Suffrage year - includes a series of short films by local women about what being a rebel daughter means to them. Among those to have posted a film is Jo Miller, chief executive of Doncaster Council. Her own rebel daughter role model was her mum, who taught her not to put limits on herself. Sound advice indeed,
We need not try to blow up an uninhabited mansion, or attack the hallowed turf of Doncaster Golf Club like the Rebel Girls whose fight university researcher Jill describes in her fascinating book of the same name, to strike a blow for women’s rights; we can just follow Jo’s mum’s example.
We can make sure our daughters develop their skills and talents and pursue their goals. We can give them confidence to be themselves and we can make sure they see positive role models.
As teachers we can make ensure that girls are not pigeon-holed and that they know any career is open to them.In our workplaces we can encourage, support and mentor young female colleagues so they can take advantage of opportunities.
Your own rebel daughter stories could help to inspire too. Share them @darts_The Point#RebelDaughters.
Rebel Girls: Their Fight for the Vote by Jill Liddington, published by Virago, tells the story of the Suffragettes who spread the message across the north.