#Emilymatters – Where are the women?

Filed in #Emilymatters, May 2014, Uncategorized by on May 20, 2014 0 Comments

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Where are the women?

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Where are the women? With the European elections (#EP2014) fast approaching, Herbert Asquith the notorious anti suffragist Prime Minister looks on.
Photo: K Willoughby, 2014

 

Suffragette Emily Davison campaigned for an equal society and faced resistance, often brutal, from anti suffragists, most notably headed up by Herbert Asquith and Lloyd George.

 

 “Emily Wilding Davison was a great campaigning feminist. Her struggle continues and she remains an icon for women even over a century after her death.”
– Emily Thornberry MP, founder of the
Emily Davison Statue in Parliament Campaign

 

Yes, lots of progress has been made since the suffragettes first stood up to a staunchly chauvinist Establishment, but look around you and you’ll see we’ve not come that far in 100 years, for example, only 23% of UK MPs are women.

 

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In February, I took my Emily Davison play, To Freedom’s Cause, to the House of Commons, a place that jealously guards drama to itself. This highly successful event included a lively and informative debate chaired by Jane Garvey (BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour Presenter) and helped to boost Emily Thornberry MP’s important campaign for a statue of Emily Davison to be erected in Parliament.

 

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#Emilymatters event included a performance of ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ & a debate chaired by
Jane Garvey with Chi Onwurah MP, Dr Helen Pankhurst, Yas Necati & Emma Barnett.

 

As part of this historic event, I created #Emilymatters, an initiative to help support the great work carried out by fourth wave feminist campaigns for gender equality, including Lucy HolmesNo More Page 35050 Parliament, the Everyday Sexism Project and the newly formed Go Girls Wales.

The UK’s boys’ club sexist culture is proving very difficult to shift, which means it’s doubly important to keep pushing for what is right and (let’s get down to brass tacks) economically beneficial.

 

Closing gender gaps benefits countries as a whole, not just women and girls
– 
Ana Revenga and Sudhir Shetty, ‘Empowering Women Is Smart Economics’

 

Since first researching To Freedom’s Cause, it became apparent that suffragettes’ bravery and inventive use of media still rankles in some quarters and that things really haven’t changed all that much. Read Nicolas Kristof New York Times article ‘What’s So Scary About Smart Girls?’ if you don’t believe me.

 

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Votes for Women: Sabina Arthur & Katie Russell, To Freedom’s Cause cast members, RADA
Photo: Val Burgess, 2011

 

The suffragettes still stir up strong reactions because they dared to stand up to a bullying culture. Today, sexism is often more subtle – behind closed doors and ‘private’ emails – but also downright brazen on social media.

 

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Suffragette Mary Leigh faces an uncertain recovery at home, after being subjected to forced feeding in prison. Emily Davison (Kate Willoughby) & Mary Leigh (Kyra Williams).
Photo: Brian Astbury, 2014

 

 

And what did the suffragettes and suffragists do in the face of such outright aggression? They came together and marched, sang uplifting songs, heard fantastic speeches, then chatted about it all afterwards, before going on their way with a renewed eagerness to continue the campaign, so that future generations would enjoy the freedoms rights they were denied.

 

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Onwards to victory! ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ Cast shot at Finghall station
Photo: Chris Wheatley, 2009

 

Be part of the great suffragette legacy: lobby and join campaigns that matter to you.  

 

Show your support for gender equality and using your right to vote at this Thursday’s election with your very own #Emilymatters photo.

 

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#Emilymatters – At the Ballot Box.
Thanks to Rebecca Furness from Bristol for this great shot.

 

Get voting & tweeting!

– Take a photo/selfie holding a sheet with #Emilymatters at your local Polling station

– Tell us where you’ve taken the photo

– Post to twitter | instagram | facebook  including #Emilymatters in the text

 

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Paying Tribute: Irene Cockroft, Women’s suffrage expert & Curator of Dying for the Vote, the 2013 Emily Widling Davison Epsom Exhibition
Photo: K Willoughby, 2013

Kate Willoughby
Actor & Writer of To Freedom’s Cause

 

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Emily Davison’s legacy is for life, not just for 2013. 

 

 

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