One hundred and nine years ago, Emily Wilding Davison, died under the hooves of the king’s horse, at the Epsom Derby. She was a member of the Suffragette Movement.
The movement through an orchestrated campaign of dissent over many years, eventually brought about the rights for women to vote.
6 February 1918: The Representation of the People Act of 1918 enfranchised women over the age of 30 who were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register. About 8.4 million women gained the vote
21 November 1918: the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected to Parliament.
1928: Women in England, Wales and Scotland received the vote on the same terms as men (over the age of 21) as a result of the Representation of the People Act 1928
Fast forward to 7 June, 1968, 187 women, all sewing machinists who made car seat covers at the Ford Dagenham plant, laid down their tools and began a strike to earn equality. The women closed down the plant for without the car seat covers, cars could not be produced, costing the company over $8 million, and risking 40,000 Ford jobs throughout the country. The strike was a key factor in passing the Equal Pay Act of 1970, which made it illegal to have different pay scales due to gender.
On the 20 Nov, 1970, in front of over 100 million TV viewers worldwide, the Miss World competition took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London, hosted by the US comedian Bob Hope. Arguing that beauty competitions objectify women, the newly formed women’s liberation movement achieved overnight fame by invading the stage and disrupting the live broadcast of the competition. Even greater controversy then followed after the result was announced. Jennifer Hosten, Miss Grenada, won, becoming the first Black woman to win Miss World, and the Black contestant from South Africa placed second.
In 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act was passed as legislation in Parliament . It protected individuals from being discriminated against in employment, vocational training, education, the provision and sale of goods, facilities and services, premises and the exercise of public functions due to their sex/gender.
In 2006, the phrase “Me Too” was first used on social media on Myspace, by sexual assault survivor and activist Tarana Burke. It has grown immensely since then
In Jan 2015, The Sun finally scrapped Page 3’s topless women after 44 years.
Today, 8 March, 2022, is – International Women’s Day. Discrimination against women around the world still persists. As the sole woman of the Shepway Vox Team, dissent is important for bringing about change. As the examples above demonstrate, we are still objectified, whether it be for our looks, via our wage packets, in education, health, or through sexual violence there is much to be done .
Change though is slow and gradual, but the dissent of women in the examples set out above demonstrate change can and does happen if we speak and act as a unified voice. As Dame Doreen Lawrence has been quoted as saying:
“Britain is an evolutionary country, not a revolutionary one.”
It has taken years of continued dissent to move women’s rights to where they are today. Much still needs to be done, but as woman, I know it can be done and will be done. The audacity of hope makes me believe this. Without hope and perseverance, dreams cannot come true. We shall prevail.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime