VIDEO: Sheffield's pioneering Suffragettes remembered - 100 years on

0
Have your say

Sheffield’s key role in the Suffragette movement has been celebrated - 100 years to the day since women first secured the vote.

Women and men of all ages gathered in Chapel Walk yesterday on the site where Adela Pankhurst opened one of the movement’s very first shops in 1908.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Ann Murphy reveals the plaque that will go outside the shop on Chapel Walk where the Sufrrogette movement met in the city.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Ann Murphy reveals the plaque that will go outside the shop on Chapel Walk where the Sufrrogette movement met in the city.

Ten years later, the Representation of the People Act gave some women over 30 the right to vote in national elections for the first time.

This subsequently paved the way for voting rights to be extended to all women in 1928.

A plaque to mark the site of the shop will be unveiled on Thursday, March 8 this year - International Women’s Day.

That the plaque had been paid for thanks to a crowdfunding campaign led by a group of young girls in the city was particularly pleasing, said campaigner, Chrissy Meleady.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Ann Murphy reveals the plaque that will go outside the shop on Chapel Walk where the Sufrrogette movement met in the city.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Ann Murphy reveals the plaque that will go outside the shop on Chapel Walk where the Sufrrogette movement met in the city.

“Sheffield was the place where the suffrage movement really took hold and began,” she said.

“Women from all different backgrounds came together wanting to have suffrage, emancipation and equal rights.”

Many of Sheffield’s prominent female politicians were there to mark the occasion.

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety on Sheffield Council, said she was there because of the hard work her grandma did - and her grandmother before that.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Ann Murphy reveals the plaque that will go outside the shop on Chapel Walk where the Sufrrogette movement met in the city.

Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Ann Murphy reveals the plaque that will go outside the shop on Chapel Walk where the Sufrrogette movement met in the city.

But she said that it was important to realise that the fight for equality reached far beyond the right to vote.

“It is not just in politics - it is everything,” she said.

“It is in access to housing, access to education, to feel safe in their environment, to wear what they want to wear.

“That is why it is so great to see so many young women here - the way that we have to fight for equality evolves.”

Coun Dunn revealed that she had been subjected to ‘intolerable’ abuse over the years as a female politician.

“Women are easy targets in politics,” she said.

“I have had a lot of abuse, death and rape threats, my home broken into.

“It wouldn’t happen to men in the same way.”

That the anniversary of the Act was being remembered at a time when the issue of inequality was very much in the news was not lost on any of those present.

The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have put issues such as sexual harassment and unequal pay at the very centre of the political debate.

Nikki Bond, women’s officer at Sheffield Central Labour Party, said it was good to finally see some movement on something feminists had been talking about for years.

But she warned that unless the political world became more open and welcoming to women, equality would still be held back.

“I spoke recently about how we have got an all male panel for the Labour candidate for mayor and why that might be,” she said.

“It doesn’t help that there is no detail around the salary that is available for it and campaigning can be quite an intense experience.

“Also, the Labour Party has got a bit of a problem around misogyny and bullying at the moment and isn’t a particularly supportive environment.”

Offering a vote of thanks to both the Suffragettes and their 21st century counterparts was Councillor Anne Murphy, the Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

“You only need to turn on the news to see that all of these issues are still current,” she said.

“There is still a long way to go until women get equal rights in this country - but we will not give up.”