Students and staff from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have united to mark the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.
Jennifer Penfold opens the event at the DMU Campus Centre
On 6 February 1918, after a remarkable campaign by the Suffragette Movement, there was a breakthrough in Parliament and legislation granted some women in the UK - those over 30 - the right to vote.
Many women at the event at DMU recognised the anniversary as a reminder of how far women have come, but stressed it should also underscore how much work still lies ahead.
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The event was opened by Jennifer Penfold, Deputy Director of People and Organisational Development at DMU, who said: “We need to take stock on where we have got so far. What we are doing really well at DMU is acknowledging that there are still challenges ahead but we have really supported and enabled women’s development in terms of careers both inside and outside of DMU."
An exhibition of documents from prominent Leicester suffragette Alice Hawkins was on display during the event. Alice was a shoe machinist who rose to national prominence as one of the suffragettes led by Emmeline Pankhurst who successfully campaigned for women to get the right to vote. Alice herself was jailed five times because of her protests. A statue of Alice was unveiled in Market Square in Leicester on Sunday.
Staff and students were able to view artefacts from the Alice Hawkins archive
The artefacts in the exhibition included postcards from fellow suffragettes, photos of Alice and her husband Alfred as well as a letter penned to politicians at the time of the movement. The artefacts were loaned by Alice’s great grandson, Peter Barratt.
DMU film expert Laraine Porter said how her research into film and cultural history frequently brought her into contact of remarkable, and yet sadly forgotten women.
“Why are these women not better well known? We need to bring them back into the public domain, we need to write them back into history.
“Today marks the achievements of the women from 100 years ago but it also tells us how far we still have to go. We have to look at it from both perspectives”.
DMU's Laraine Porter speaking at the event
Amber O’Connor, 26, a cultural events management student originally from Coventry said that the DMU event was a celebration of the steps DMU are taking to ensure equality.
She said: “Today represents voices being heard, that is the key. It resembles the equality that the university is working towards”.
Kate Askew, 19, a second-year Arts and Festivals Management student, from Somerset, said how important it was to celebrate women and give them a platform for the future.
She said: “Today showcases how far we have come but also how far we have to go. The chapter hasn’t ended”.
Emily Rooney, 20, a first-year Architecture student from Coventry said it was important for everyone to know their history.
She said: “The statue in town is a reminder of how important this movement is - to be able to have a say without feeling marginalized”.
Posted on Tuesday 6th February 2018