“Votes For Women!”

Celebrating 100 years since the introduction of voting rights for women!

A free event is being held in Borough Gardens in Dorchester on Sunday the 1st July from noon -3pm to celebrate 100 years of suffrage for women.

Attendees will include several local women Councillors among them Stella Jones who has served on the District Council for an impressive and very dedicated 45 years!

The event will involve music, speeches, displays, activities and refreshments from an aptly named ‘Equaliteas’ stall.

Baroness Jenny Jones of the Green Party will open the event with an address that will highlight why granting women the vote was such an important step and why it remains relevant today.

Award winning singer, songwriter and musician Louise Jordan will share stories of inspirational women who challenged expectations through original song and storytelling. From inventor and suffragist Hertha Ayrton to the so-called ‘surplus million’ single women, Louise explores the impact of women’s war work on the votes for women campaign.

There will also be music from Magdalena Atkinson and the Viva Choir.

The event is being led by the Dorchester Youth Council and supported by Dorchester Town Council.

Belle Marshall says

As a member of the Dorchester Youth Council, I feel passionate about equality in society. The history made by the women’s suffrage movement is a legacy that truly inspires me.”

This anniversary is important because it was a break through for women’s democracy, but it was with the same act of parliament – ‘The Representation of the People Act 1918’, that all men over the age of 21 were first allowed to vote. As with women gaining the vote, the path to being enfranchised, for men who did not own property, had also been a long one.

If anyone has a Suffragette in the family – or any memorabilia, please do bring it along to share. Plus you are welcome to come dressed up as a Suffragette or Suffragist if you like – militant men are welcome too!

Hot and cold drinks, bacon sandwiches and cakes will be served by the Trefoils (who represent Guiding for adults) supported by some local Women’s Institute members.

Stella Jones adds “As a long serving Councillor, I feel very strongly about the right to vote and the importance of exercising ones vote to help uphold our democracy. Events like these are not only a fun, community minded way to come together to celebrate important moments in history, but they also remind us that we need to continue to work together to continue to improve society for all”

When we think of the campaign for votes for women, we tend to think of the Suffragettes’ famous militant tactics and some of those famous names and events leading up to the 1918 Act. However, this was just a small part of the much wider Women’s Movement and agitation for change that was in motion well over 100 years before 1918 – and still continues into the present day.

As the debates over representation in Parliament (where the UK ranks only 49th globally for number of women in the House of Commons), sexual exploitation and gender pay gaps continue to play out in the media, we can wonder what early suffragettes might have said about the situation for women in 2018.