A series of innovative events are taking place across Newcastle to mark 100 years since women finally got the right to vote.
February 2018 marks 100 years since the first British women were granted the right to vote. Newcastle’s Women’s 100 group is hosting and co-ordinating a month of activities to celebrate the political voice and activism of women and honour those who are making a difference in the city.
Northumbria academic Dr Sarah Ralph is the University’s lead representative for the Women’s 100 group, whose other members are drawn from Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University, Newcastle CVS, Central Library, and Tyne and Wear Museums.
The Representation of the People Act in 1918 began the process of women’s suffrage, with campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst calling on activists to be militant ‘each in your own way’. This extraordinary movement was a triumph for women’s rights, but around the world today, the fight continues for equality. This is reflected in the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day #pressforprogress, which calls for progress in equality and ending violence against women, girls and other vulnerable groups.
Dr Ralph said: “The Women's 100 events and activities aim to celebrate and honour the struggle of those who campaigned to achieve the vote for women, as well as the many women activists who have fought for women's rights over the last 100 years. We hope our programme might even inspire some women to become involved in local politics or activism themselves.”
Dr Ralph is a lecturer in media and cultural studies whose research focuses on women and the media and the representation of women. She explained how Newcastle has been at the forefront of women’s radical action for more than a century, including Suffragettes holding meetings in Fenwick’s café in the 1900s (and plotting to break the windows!), the first Women’s Liberation conference held outside London in the 1970s and being one of only four British cities to hold a ‘slutwalk’ in 2011.
As part of the Newcastle's Women's 100 activities, Tivoli Cafe in Fenwick hosted a Campaigning Tea Party, where women (and also some men) came together to drink tea, eat scones and hear from local women who are making a difference in Newcastle and elsewhere.
Among them was Sally Young, Newcastle CVS Chief Executive, recently appointed Vice Chair of NCVO Board and alumna of Northumbria. The NCVO is a national charity that champions the voluntary sector and volunteering by connecting, representing and supporting voluntary organisations nationally.
Sally, who has worked with, and for charities for the past 30 years, is particularly interested in the value of small charities and local community groups, the importance of infrastructure organisations and working to tackle inequality and poverty.
One of the events taking place on Northumbria’s campus as part of Women’s 100 Day is a ‘Knicker Revolution’ in which donated undies are transformed into bunting by a North-East artist. These will then be used to decorate an iconic Newcastle landmark.
You can support Women’s 100 Day by following the group on Twitter @womens100 and by tweeting with the hashtag #womens100NCL
There will be further activities happening throughout the year organised by both the Women’s 100 group and a range of partner organisations who are supporting and sponsoring activities.
For the full programme of events taking place in Newcastle in February and March go to: https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/news/international-womens-day-newcastle-womens-100
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