International Women’s Day – Suffragettes in 1911

8 March 2015

All around the world, International Women’s Day is being recognised today – representing an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. In 1911, women took the opportunity to make their mark or, as is the theme for 2015, Make It Happen. 


Although there is much suffragist history dating back before the 1900’s, the most important events happened at the beginning of the twentieth century. This period represented a turning point for the feminist movement in the UK when the women turned to more action-oriented forms of protests such as chaining themselves to railings, setting things on fire, etc. In the autobiography of Emmeline Pankhurst, a well-known suffragette: This was the beginning of a campaign the like of which was never known in England, or for that matter in any other country…we interrupted a great many meetings…and we were violently thrown out and insulted. Often we were painfully bruised and hurt.” [Source: HistoryLearning Site]

The 1911 census was ‘disrupted’ by some suffragettes who refused to complete the census and others who, whilst completing the form correctly, chose to make their feelings known:

I have a confession to make: I don’t always use my vote. That decision is mostly made because I have no preference or no knowledge of what particular candidates offer. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not. I am really grateful that we (women) can vote but that doesn’t mean we have to. It’s all about choice.

Thank you Emmeline and your compatriots – I celebrate you on this International Women’s Day for making it happen.

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