ONE hundred years ago today, British women were given a voice. For the first time, many mothers, daughters and sisters could have a say in how their country was run.
When Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903, it was the beginning of a revolution.
Within just a few years, suffragettes up and down the country would stop at almost nothing to get their voices heard in parliament. The struggle to win the vote was long and arduous, but in 1918 these brave women won.
The suffragettes did more than simply gain women the vote though – they helped set the stage for a century of change.
Since then, women around the world have channeled the suffragette spirit to campaign for progress. They have stood up to racism, sexism, homophobia, corruption and much more.
Last century’s suffragettes are today’s women human rights defenders. Every day they continue to harness their loud and passionate voices to empower communities, protect the vulnerable and create a fairer, more equal world.
Amnesty International campaigns to help protect women human rights defenders around the world. These brave campaigners often face surveillance, intimidation, threats, imprisonment and some even risk their lives.
Right now, Shackelia Jackson is fighting for justice after her brother was shot dead by police in Jamaica.
Lawyer Azza Soliman, risks her own safety and freedom to speak out for victims of torture and domestic abuse in Egypt.
Aura Lolita Chavez, who campaigns for indigenous peoples’ rights and land in Guatemala, was threatened with death and assault by armed men in June. Tep Vanny is currently sitting inside a Cambodian jail after peacefully protesting a tourist development in her local area of central Phnom Penh.
But you don’t need to travel thousands of miles to meet women fighting for justice, equality and supporting the vulnerable. In fact, there is probably a brave woman human rights defender living at your doorstep.
This is why Amnesty and newspaper, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in Britain, is calling upon readers to nominate the incredible women who are working to make a real difference in their local community today.
Because it’s not just the likes of the Pankhursts, Rosa Parks, and Chelsea Manning who deserve to be recognised. Ordinary women from all walks of life – from students to shopkeepers, office workers to OAPs – are doing extraordinary things.
They might have stood up to bullies, helped the homeless, aided refugees, campaigned for better access to healthcare. They could have challenged bad business practices, worked to protect the environment, prevented forced evictions, and much more.
Every time these women have spoken up, set up a petition, sent a letter to their MP, or proudly displayed their placard on the picket line, they’ve taken steps towards making life better for others – to ensure that you and I, as well future generations, enjoy a fairer, more equal world.
The amazing achievements of these often-unsung heroes deserve to be celebrated, and Amnesty wants to feature them on its Suffragette Spirit Map of Britain.
The interactive map, which will launch on International Women’s day on 8 March, will be a symbol of the suffragettes’ legacy – proudly displaying how far we have come over the past century, but also highlighting how much life-changing work is still being carried out today in every corner of the country.
So, over to you: Which 21 st century suffragette deserves to be put firmly on the map?
HOW TO NOMINATE
To nominate an amazing woman your local area, please visit www.amnesty.org.uk/suffragettespirit. All women must have carried out work to help others in their local area within the last 10 years. All successful nominees will be contacted to give consent prior to being placed on the Suffragette Spirit Map of Britain. This campaign has been funded by People’s Postcode Lottery.