UK

Mass march marks 100 years of women's vote

The march in Edinburgh Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption In Edinburgh, crowds marched to Queen's Drive in Holyrood Park

Women across the UK have marched together to create a living artwork, to mark 100 years since the first British women won the vote.

Women in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London donned the colours of the suffragette movement - green, white and violet - as part of a mass procession.

One hundred female artists worked with local communities to create banners for the marches in the four cities.

The protest banners bear messages about equality.

The mass participation artwork is being hailed as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" celebrating a centenary of the women's vote.

The event was co-ordinated by 14-18 Now - an art programme connecting people with the First World War - and Artichoke - a charity which creates public art in the UK.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Belfast march started at the Titanic Slipways
Image copyright PA
Image caption Female MPs joined the mass march in London

The 1918 Representation of the People Act gave women the vote - but only for those who were over 30 years old and who also owned property.

Those marching had been given a green, white or violet scarf to wear to create the coloured stripes in the procession. Processions began at 14:00 BST.


On the London march

By BBC correspondent Chi Chi Izundu

They are all here paying homage to the women of suffrage, but many of the thousands taking part want to make their voices heard now.

"Equal seats, equal voices" was being chanted by one group of women demanding a 50/50 representation in parliament. Another group called out for equal rights for women in prisons.

Women had travelled from as far as New Zealand to take part in the march, remembering how 100 years ago, their ancestors had travelled half-way across the world just to support the British fight for the right to vote.

Men joined in too, reminding us that some did play a supportive role in the fight.

Fathers accompanied their daughters, brothers walked alongside mums and sisters.

And women from ethnic minorities wanted to highlight the plight that some had gone through supporting women 100 years ago.

Girls as young as 12 marched alongside their mothers and grandmothers calling for equal pay and representation in all jobs and as a mark of respect for those who, 100 years ago, walked along parts of this very same route in the fight for women's voices to be heard.


Tens of thousands of women were expected to join the processions, with women gathering from all over the world, and the events were broadcast on BBC One.

Image caption Green, violet and white banners were carried by the crowd
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption One woman wore a hat shaped like the Palace of Westminster
Image caption Joanne Johnson (r) said the march was "a mark of respect to the women who gave their lives so we would have the opportunity to vote"

Joanne Johnson said she was attending the march to "honour the women that fought for our right to vote".

However she also said the fight for equality was still going on. "The suffragettes started this but we still don't get equal pay, even in 2018," she added.

Her daughter Rosie said she was there to "say thank you to the suffragettes for what they did for us".

Image copyright AFP/ Getty Images
Image copyright AFP/ Getty Images
Image caption Members of the military also joined the march

This year has seen a number of events celebrating the centenary of women winning the right to vote, and paying tribute to the suffragette movement.

In February, on the date the parliamentary act was passed, members of the House of Lords held a debate. Several speakers shared memories of women who had fought for female suffrage, but many argued there was still a long way to go.

In April, a statue commemorating the life of the suffragist, Millicent Fawcett - by artist Gillian Wearing - was unveiled opposite Parliament.

The Suffragists – were first to organise, forming local societies in the 1860s

The Suffragettes – were active for just 10 years after splitting from the Suffragists in 1903

Suffragists – focused on middle-class women

Suffragettes – encouraged working-class women to protest

Suffragists – held public speaking events, lobbied MPs and wrote petitions

Suffragettes – disrupted meetings, vandalised art and buildings and were often arrested

Suffragists – dinner parties!

Suffragettes – hunger strikes!

Everyone organised marches!

Suffragists – successfully built support in parliament over many years

Suffragettes – increased publicity and re-energised the cause but also sparked a backlash

Then in World War One, women took new roles in factories and beyond...

...which made denying them voting rights harder than ever

After 50 years of women standing up and speaking out...

Parliament finally passed a law giving some women the vote in 1918

Most recently, dozens of sites across England where suffragettes held mass meetings or protests are being officially recognised on the National Heritage List.

Historic England has chosen more than 40 places which record the frontline of the movement's struggle.

Included on the list is the Prince's Stand at Epsom racecourse, the scene of the most famous protest by suffragettes, in which Emily Davison was fatally injured after she ran in front of the King's horse.