What a fantastic evening we had! Paula keaveney, senior lecturer in Politics and Public Relations at Edge Hill University, stepped in at very short notice and gave us such an interesting talk on the Suffrage Movement. February 6th was the centenary of SOME women getting the vote for the first time in England, so this is a very current topic. Paula gave us some interesting facts - women had to be aged 30 and own property to be allowed to vote in February 1918 (Jan added that there were 6 million such women which is staggering!) Strangely women could stand for Parliament from November 1918 from the age of 21 but of course wouldn't have been able to vote until they were 30!
Paula spoke about two notable Liverpool women pioneers: Eleanor Rathbone, who after being the first woman elected to Liverpool City Council became an independent MP and Nessie Stewart Brown, a Liberal politician who was the second woman to serve on the city council. Both women were in the forefront of the Suffrage movement.
We found out the opposition to the movement came mainly from the Liberal Prime Minister H H Asquith. We also found out the difference between Suffragettes, who believed in direct action for maximum publicity, and Suffragists, who believed in peaceful protest and lobbying. We were shown some board games promoting both sides of the debate and which were very popular in getting messages across.
Paula gave us something to think about: Why did women get the vote? Was it 1.campaigning? 2.Force of argument? 3.A change in the perceived role of women as a result of WW1? We had quite a few opinions expressed from our members.
What is the situation now in politics? The House of Commons is made up of 32% women. Does more need to be done to encourage women into politics? Is there room to change the current climate in politics for women to be able to fit in family life more easily around the job? Interestingly the UN says that it only takes 30% involvement for a minority group (eg women) to make an impact in an organisation.
Another hot issue for debate - should we pardon suffragettes with a criminal conviction? Was their criminal activity justified?
Paula told us Edge Hill University started its life as the first non-denominational teacher training college back in 1885. The university is involved in a Wonder Woman Campaign and is hosting a Suffragette Symposium on 28th February from 2pm to9pm, open to the public.
Great talk, great speaker, lots to think about!
Spot the board games, and members in Suffrage costume!