The suffragettes was founded in 1897, by Millicent Fawcett. This movement was a fight for women to vote, it seemed at the time an unfathomable goal. However, the suffragettes believed in their movement, they didn’t give up they persisted through every battle. They never took no for an answer, even from those with the most authority. From burning down churches, to vandalizing streets and chaining themselves to Buckingham Palace. Along with many more violent acts. When their actions caught up to them, they were sent to prison; meaning the cat and mouse act was used to weaken the suffragettes, even possibly leading to death.
But what did they teach us? Was it to persist, to fight for what you believe in? They taught us to be flexible, to be willing to compromise. August 1914, Britain became involved with World War 1. Instead of the suffragettes ignoring this, letting everyone else fight for them while their acts of violence continue they stopped their campaign, temporarily to support the country and the government. Their flexibility lead to more success for them, as in the World War women had to work, do the jobs men use to before the war. Women were given a glimpse of what they could have. After World War one the suffragettes had more chance and drive for success. However, they didn’t get everything they wanted, at least not straight away.
The compromises made by the suffragettes may not have been ideal, but they were progress. In 1917 women over 30, or 21 who owned a home or was married to the house owner, could vote. Then in 1919, the first female MP, Nancy Astor. 1928, everyone over 21 has the right to vote. These compromises for only women who met a certain criteria being able to vote lead to equal voting rights. The suffragettes weren’t just fighting for equal voting rights in Britain or the U.S, they were world wide. Thousands of woman (and men) fighting for equal voting rights day in day out across the globe.
How something that happened over 100 years ago is relevant or applicable now? it may have been over 100 years ago they fought for voting rights, but today we’re fighting for equal rights, for everything. From the black lives matter movement, to the current #protecttranskids and to every other movement fighting for what they believe in. It might be worth reflecting on what the suffragettes done, what was right and wrong. Be flexible, don’t think that your movement restricts you from anything, be strong and powerful use the voice we have. The suffragettes didn’t have social platforms aside from protests, yet we do so lets use them. Most of all be willing to compromise. We won’t get the world we want in one step, years of hard work may only result in one small change but that change is better that what you have before, its the next step to your ultimate goal.
The one thing we can learn not to do from the suffragettes if nothing else is that their violent protests didn’t achieve the success they’re known for, it was there cooperation and willing to be flexible and to compromise. So no matter the movement, its time to fight for equal rights even if it means taking a tip or two from so long ago.