Suffragettes100: Three Newham women talk about the importance of exercising your right to vote today
- Credit: Archant
As part of our coverage of the centenary of some women getting the vote, the Recorder spoke to three women about why they think it is important women excercise their right to vote today.
Vivian Archer, owner of Newham Bookshop, has praised the younger generation for “coming forward” and standing up for women’s rights.
“Young women in particular are feeling they can speak out and they need to be given support,” she said.
Vivian, 70, says she has voted in every possible election since turning 18 and feels women have a duty to honour the historical sacrifices made by campaigners.
“I think it is really important that we recognise what the suffragettes did and how far women have come, but we still have a long way to go,” she said.
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“Huge barriers” remain for women in society and “institutional sexism” means women do not feel empowered, she added.
“We have a long way to go.”
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Newham Bookshop is commemorating the centenary with a special window display of books by female authors and a series of events.
Women need to assert themselves by exercising their right to vote to make politicians sit up and take note of issues effecting them, says Rania Ramli, a candidate to become London Young Labour Chair.
“Politicians listen to people that vote,” she said.
“This government’s policies impact women and the only way we can hold them to account is to vote.”
Rania argues that whilst young people do care about individual issues and are used to expressing their views on social media, they do not always see politics as being a vehicle for change that it can be.
Schools should be tackling this problem by teaching pupils about politics, she said.
Historical sacrifices made to get the vote should also be taught, she adds.
Rania says the modern feminist movement needs to account for intersectionality by “being more inclusive of women of colour and LGBT women.”
Rev Ann Easter, the second woman to be made a Church of England priest, argues that we must not forget that this centenary only marks the date when 41 per cent of women got the vote.
Women who did not own land, which included both of Ann’s grandmothers, did not gain the right to vote until 1928.
Ann says despite the efforts of campaigners, women still haven’t got gender equality.
“We still haven’t got anything like enough women in government,” she said.
It is really important to have “a mix” of men and women to achieve a successful working environment, she adds.
During her time in the church, Ann says she has seen women take on many more leadership roles.
Whilst she used to frequently be the only woman present at Church of England meetings, she says there is now a much greater consciousness about making sure representation is “diverse enough.”