Communications Officer Symone recaps an afternoon celebrating equality, and remembering the brave work of the suffrage campaigners
We had a marvellous day celebrating the 90th anniversary of universal suffrage yesterday. EqualiTeas are happening up and down the country, and Women’s Pioneer held our very own with residents to celebrate the work of the brave and wonderful women who changed history.
Naturally, we are proud that our founders were active suffragists and suffragettes. They and we know that the difference housing makes to equality is understated. A safe secure home gives women power to be independent, and to achieve great things. We had images of Helen Archdale, a leading suffragette and one of our founders, Gertrude Leverkus, one of the first female architects, who designed many of our flats, and other inspirational women dotted around the room during the event. These are now spread around our office and we will add to them.
We started the afternoon with a women’s suffrage themed board game, which took us from the 1866 petition to the 1928 Equal Franchise Act. It was great fun but also very informative, answering quiz questions such as: which martial art did suffragette Edith Garrud teach campaigners to use against policemen (answer: jujitsu), as well as talking about landmark moments of progress in the suffrage movement. Bernie and Denise were the winning team, sailing past Jo and Maria at the eleventh hour (to Jo’s dismay!).
As we were slightly too optimistic in setting the agenda for the day, we – democratically – opted to discuss the difference housing can make to equality instead of the debate cards provided by EqualiTeas (which offered far broader topics). Our CEO Denise first gave the headlines of the latest research we’ve found. There is still a massive 18.4% gender pay gap, and London has one of the biggest in the country. We also talked about other causes of women’s housing need such as domestic violence. The discussion illustrated that there is still a need for affordable housing, specifically for women. The residents talked about what women need from housing providers, with security, community and accessibility being high on the list.
As WPH resident Joyce and I discussed, sometimes it’s easy to take for granted the rights women have today. We owe so much to the suffrage campaigners of 100 years ago, and yesterday gave us the opportunity to remember their struggles and achievements and consider what equality means to us today.