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Celebrating 100 years of votes for women

PUBLISHED: 12:38 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 13 February 2018

Joy Bounds of the Ipswich Womens Festival Group, gives a speech at the launch of four blue plaques for Ipswich women, including Suffragette Constance Andrews. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Joy Bounds of the Ipswich Womens Festival Group, gives a speech at the launch of four blue plaques for Ipswich women, including Suffragette Constance Andrews. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

Archant

Women in and around Ipswich are immersed in plans to celebrate 100 years since the vote was won.

The suffragette shop in Tower Street, Ipswich, 1914: Picture: BY COURTESY OF THE WOMEN'S LIBRARY, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICSThe suffragette shop in Tower Street, Ipswich, 1914: Picture: BY COURTESY OF THE WOMEN'S LIBRARY, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

A steering committee representing women from all walks of life, including the arts, business and local government, has been formed to consider how best this centenary can be marked. Ipswich-based women’s historian Joy Bounds is the chair of Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes – 100 Years On.

She says: “It was 100 years ago this month (February) that the Representation of the People Act was passed giving some women the right to vote in a British General Election for the very first time. For women over the age of 30, who were householders or married to householders, the long fight to have a say in the government of their country was won. In December of that year, they would get to go to the polls.”

By 1918, women had been campaigning in numerous ways for over 50 years to gain the right to vote. This fight had covered a broad spectrum of protest actions – some of which resulted in hundreds of women being force-fed in prison. Local women had been involved too, with up to thirty of them holding an all-night vigil in what is now a restaurant (Arlington’s) in Museum Street, Ipswich, to avoid completing their Census forms. Their leader, Constance Andrews, to whom a blue plaque was erected in 2016, also went to prison as part of her campaign.

Arlington’s has since become the informal meeting place for women’s events in the town. In 2011 A memorial meal was held there 100 years after the census night protest. It was a night 
of cheers and applause for rousing speeches.

Joy says: “Ipswich women from many groups have got together to begin to plan a centenary celebration, which will culminate in a Festival in October. At that Festival they want to remember the struggle of the suffragettes, raise awareness of the continuing fight for gender equality, and encourage women to use their vote and become more involved in their local community.

“There will be inspirational talks, film, drama, history, crafts and fun too. In the months beforehand, they are planning to work with women and girls from all across the community to involve them in the Festival day.”

More details will be published over the coming weeks but to get involved and/or offer sponsorship, Joy Bounds can be reached via email at: joybounds83@gmail.com

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