Emmeline Pankhurst And The Suffragettes

Get to know one of the women who changed the conditions for women
Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes

Emmeline Pankhurst was a charismatic leader for women in the suffragette movement, and she fought tirelessly for women’s suffrage. In this article you can learn more about her life and about her political and social victories.

Today we will explore the lives and victories of the political activists and suffragettes. Emmeline Pankhurst spearheaded a movement that fought for women’s right to vote.

Emmeline Pankhurst has come down in the history books as the person who passionately believed that women deserved the same rights in society as men. She fought tirelessly all her life for women’s right to vote and fought to eradicate poverty and fight ignorance.

Time magazine  considers her to be one of the 100 most important figures of the 20th century. She was a charismatic leader and a gifted speaker. She inspired many people to support her in the fight.

So how did her fight go? How did she become important to future generations? In what way did she manage to change her time, and what changed for our time? In this article, we invite you to discover more about the incredible Emmeline Pankhurst.

Photo by Emmeline Pankhurst

Her early life

Emmeline Pankhurst was born on July 15, 1858. Her father Robert Goulden came from a family of political activists. Emmeline’s mother, Sophia Crane, was also a political activist from the Isle of Man. When Emmeline was a little girl, both her parents supported the movement that would abolish slavery. 

When she turned 20, she met and fell in love with a lawyer and political activist who advocated for women’s suffrage and who wanted reforms in education. His name was Richard Pankhurst and he was 24 years older than Emmeline. They married and had five children.

The Suffragettes

The movement of suffragettes had at that time begun to come up with ideas to allow single women or widows to vote. But Emmeline and her husband rejected that proposal altogether and began a new group, the Women’s Franchise League.

This new group was an advocate for the rights of all women without exception and equal rights with regard to divorce and inheritance. Shortly after the start, the movement became more radicalized towards the extreme and many of its members disappeared.

Emmeline Pankhurst’s political career

After a time in London, Emmeline Pankhurst returned to Manchester. It was here she, began to become engaged in political activism by herself. Emmeline eventually joined the Labor Party after being rejected several times because she was a woman. There, she was also engaged in distributing food to a committee to help the unemployed.

The poverty and helplessness she experienced in these people affected her enormously. The experience inspired her to join a movement to better protect workers. After several accidents, Richard became ill and died. He left Emmeline with a considerable debt and with the responsibility of the whole family.

Pankhurst got a job at the local municipal office, and she started talking about women’s social conditions in that region. At the same time, her now adult daughters also became involved in the suffragette movement.

Action instead of words for Emmeline Pankhurst

Disappointed that the political parties and the suffragette movement achieved nothing, she decided to leave these groups. She then founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU.) This union was only open to women, and its motto was “Action, not words.”

It did not take long for the WSPU to radicalize, and they began to use violent tactics. Their goal was to gain attention and revenge. They became known for smashing windows and attacking people’s private homes and for hunger strikes. 

The men in Pankhurst’s party and the authorities attacked her and others on more than one occasion. The government also put her in jail several times. During this period she sold her house in Manchester and traveled through England and the United States to hold conferences about her work.

A more mature Emmeline

Emmeline Pankhurst and women’s right to vote

At the beginning of World War I, Emmeline negotiated with Parliament to secure the release of women from the WSPU. In return, she promised that she would refrain from doing more violent things in the future. The agreement also involved the support of the women in the organization for the British against Germany.

This agreement created a conflict within the movement. It was so controversial that it actually created an inseparable separation between Emmeline and one of her daughters. After the war, she had become so disappointed with the left in politics that she actually joined the Conservative Party.

At the time, the Conservative Party was the most popular political party. Pankhurst wanted to use the energy of the women’s suffragette movement. Her years of struggle and hard work yielded results just weeks before she died at the age of 69. Pankhurst lived long enough to see that women were given the right to vote.

The violent side of women’s suffragette

Pankhurst was a controversial, energetic and radical activist. She attacked some of the political ideas and supported others, but she did not lose hope of achieving her goal. People hated her and loved her in both camps. Pankhurst was an inspiration to women everywhere.

We can conclude that Emmeline Pankhurst represented the more radical side of the women’s suffragette movement. Not everyone in the movement supported her violent methods, but these “masculine” strategies ended up being the ones that attracted the attention of the women’s cause.

Pankhurst dared to speak the only language that the patriarchal system seemed to understand: Violent protests. Whether you agree or disagree with her tactics, one thing is for sure: the system listened and changed.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button