Emmeline Pankhurst: Celebrating the poster child of democracy

As the team behind the upcoming Pankhurst film mark her birthday by releasing new posters, we too are celebrating the controversial poster child of democracy.

Emmeline Pankhurst’s tireless work as one of the leaders of the British Suffragette movement helped women win the right to vote. Today is her birthday and this summer Unlock Democracy supporters across the UK are holding picnics to honour her contribution to British democracy.

Her work helped to give women over the age of 30 the right to vote for the first time in 1918, and though she didn’t live to see it, just weeks after her death in 1928, the Representation of the Peoples Act gave women full electoral equality with men.

The anniversary of her birth is a reminder not only that democracy has come a long way in a relatively short space of time but that the actions of individuals can make a difference. The strong convictions and determination displayed by Emmeline Pankhurst and others like her were able to overcome the status-quo and leave a lasting, positive impact on British democratic society.

Emmeline Pankhurst’s birthday reminds us that by standing up for what you believe in and working together, anyone can make a difference. It also reminds us that despite how far democracy has come, there’s still a long way for it to go.

Whether its the half a million people who signed petitions for voting reform in May; or the hundreds of you who came together across the UK to contribute clauses for our People’s Charter earlier this year, you’ve made your voice heard.

  • “A fair voting System, which accurately reflects the intention of the electorate” (Liverpool)
  • “To hold a citizen-led constitutional convention, representative of the British people with a mandatory referendum on the propositions and regular review” (Sheffield)
  • “Limit power of corporations and lobbyists” (London)
  • “The right to access a free and open internet” (Nottingham)
  • “The enshrinement of human rights in laws, such as: The right of access to democratic institutions; the right to justice - not based on financial means; the right to education; the right to democracy in all institutions; and the right to participation” (Edinburgh)

From how to improve the political system in the UK, to rights and society, and even to digital rights and reform - it’s clear that people are passionate about our democracy and have strong feelings about how it can be improved in the modern world.

We can look back now and wonder why on earth it took so long for women to be given the same voting rights as men. Emmeline Pankhurst’s legacy inspires us to believe that one day we can look back at how democracy was now and wonder the same thing.

What changes would you make to our democracy? What do you think the priorities for democratic reform should be now?

Volunteer: James Hackett