On Friday the 1st of December, I had the honour of being selected as one of the 34 girls to attend the visitation of Helen Pankhurst.
The last name 'Pankhurst' should ring familiar to some as Emmeline Pankhurst and Sylvia Pankhurst - great-grandmother and grandmother of Helen Pankhurst - who played pivotal roles in the suffragette movement, a movement which led to the win of the women's vote.
"She (Emmeline Pankhurst) shaped an idea of women for out time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back."
- Times Magazine
100 Most Important People in the 20th Century
Both of these women's work and activism was key to achieving the vote and women's suffrage in Britain. Following in her (great) grandmother's footsteps Helen Pankhurst is an activist, writer and international development expert; she has worked for multiple international development organisations such as CARE, WomanKind Worldwide and ACORD.
In her talk with us, we discussed the recent release of the film "Suffragette" and how much we have progressed in terms of women's rights since the 1930's in England. We examined the progress of Western European Women's Rights through 5 different topics; Politics, Money, Identity, Violence and Culture - and then rated their progress from 1 (being no progress) to 5 (being the achievement of full equality).
We deliberated on multiple issues, the ones I personally found the most poignant being; reproductive rights, social norms and how to start the discussion as well as opening the conversation to more than just the 34 girls in the room - a discourse I found especially pertinent as we all agreed that in this school it's hard to even call yourself a feminist without being met with a wave of criticism. It was an excellent experience as well as led to a manifold of interesting conversations with my peers afterwards.
Lola Robledo, Meredith Hancock and Graine Parry decided, as a follow up, to start a gender group. I was incredibly excited and attended the first meeting in the Library during Friday the 8th of December. It appears that the visitation of Helen Pankhurst has served as motivation and inspiration to start a new nations wave of feminism within our very own school.