October 10: Centenary of the Suffragette movement
On this date in 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union to win voting rights (or "suffrage") for women.
Outline script for assembly leader
Next month, a new 50p coin will be in circulation. On the front is the Queen's head. On the reverse there is the figure of a woman holding a banner that bears the letters "WSPU". To her right is a ballot paper marked with a cross and the words "Give Women the Vote". The coin marks a special centenary. A hundred years ago, in 1903, women could not vote in elections.
Some MPs said they were not intelligent enough to do so. Women and girls were also made to work in terrible conditions in factories for far less pay than men.
On October 10 that year, a group of women, including Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, formed the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) to fight for women's rights. Their motto was "Deeds not Words". They came to be known as suffragettes and wore their organisation's colours: purple for dignity, white for purity and green for hope.
They were well organised. Some would call them terrorists, because they planted bombs, threw stones and missiles at politicians and shop windows, and attacked the House of Commons. In turn, they were treated harshly. The Liberal Government feared that if women had the vote, they would not vote Liberal. It was not until 1918 that women older than 30 achieved the vote, with all women aged 21 and above being allowed to vote from 1928.
* Discuss: do women now have equal rights with men? Which groups don't have equal rights? Should teenagers have the vote? If so, at what age?
(Currently, it is 18.) For further information, see The Pankhursts by Martin Pugh (Penguin).
* The Public Record Office in Kew is staging an exhibition, "The March of the Women" from October 6 to November 29.
Tel: 020 8392 5202 www.pro.gov.uk
* Another exhibition will be held at the People's History Museum, Bridge Street, Manchester
Tel: 0161 839 6061 www.peopleshistorymuseum.org.uk
* The Women's Library, Old Castle Street, London E1 is holding school workshops and displays. Tel: 020 7320 2222. www.thewomenslibrary.ac.uk