Every year, on March 8th, women around the world celebrate International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity and recognises that different women have different starting points in the quest for equality.
March is also Women’s History Month. Here in Greenwich, over a hundred years ago, Lewisham born Rosa May Billinghurst launched the Greenwich Branch of the Women's Social and Political Union (WPSU), the Suffragette organisation led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Rosa famously took part in the 1910 March to Parliament. This day became known as Black Friday because of the terrible violence meted out on the protesters. Despite getting around in an adapted tricycle due to contracting polio as a child Rosa went on the march was arrested and sent to Holloway prison. This was one of many actions she took part in.
In 1918 the vote was given to married women over thirty subject to a property qualification and finally in 1928 on the same basis as men. But there is still more to be done. The Liberal Democrat campaign for gender balance (CBG) recognises that today the challenge is to get more women to become councillors and MPs. As part of the campaign, the Liberal Democrats provide training and mentoring to women who want to stand for office. Because for us, like the Suffragettes, ‘deeds not words’ is what matters. Nine out of fourteen of our MPs are women, all with important spokesperson roles within parliament.