Pagent Ready Women (1909)

13th April 2015  |  News
'Pageant of Women’s Trades and Professions 1909'

‘Pageant of Women’s Trades and Professions 1909′

With the 2015 general election date drawing ever closer discussions of who to vote for are abundant One of the hot topics of debate is why in the last general election only 65.1% of the British public voted. The Guardian and other news outlets have questioned for young people if its ‘apathy or antipathy’ to try to explain the low voting turn out.

Conversations about exercising the vote and the right to exercise the vote have been a constant theme throughout modern history. This blog post will consider the early years one of the most significant social movements concerning the vote in Britain, the women’s suffrage movement. The women’s suffrage campaign began in 1866 and had its first victory in 1918 when the Representation of the People Act (RPA) enfranchised women aged 30 and above. (Smith, p.90) The RPA Bill was then extended in 1928 to give men and women the equal right to vote. (Smith, p.107) The women’s movement both challenged gender roles and political power structures. The historian Henrietta Moore has wrote about how the women used invading the Victorian city and occupying public space as a means of resistance. (Tonkiss, p. 100) Moore is referring to the great displays of solidarity the women showed through political and cultural organized street displays.  The Suffrage movement embodied the Pageant as part of their social movement repertoire to communicate their movement aims. On the 27 April 1909, 1,000 women took to the streets of London for the ‘Pageant of Women’s Trades and Professions’. Women from a wide range of jobs such as doctors, pitbrow lasses, charwomen, artists, machinists and teachers, were all part of the pageant. (Buckley,p. 43) The women demonstrated their strength and unity wearing overtly political patterns of their material culture. ((Buckley,p. 44)

In the briefly mentioned Guardian article above, there is a photograph members of the Emily Tree project, which aims to engage young females with politics. The young women are holding banners and wearing sashes in tribute to the Suffrage Movement.  It will be interesting to see if other young women consider the efforts of the women that came before them and cast their vote on May 9th 2015.

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