You might have seen that this week has been 100 years since women were allowed to vote. This was only women aged 30 or over who had certain property rights and it wasn’t until 1928 that the age was lowered to 21 in line with men. Clearly that was a good thing, although it shouldn’t have taken so long to happen. And there are all sorts of interesting stories within stories, in the whole female emancipation story.
It started off as a verbal fight, which after 40 years was getting nowhere and then turned into a more pro-active fight. Most of the men of the time really didn’t see why women should have the vote, and the woman who everyone remembers was Emmeline (not Emily) Pankhurst, a feisty Northern woman married to Dr Pankhurst an ardent advocate of women’s rights.
Emmeline Pankhurst was from Hulme /Longsight in Manchester (her home at 62 Nelson Street is now a museum and women’s centre, opposite the Manchester Royal Infirmary.) She had many qualities of a good war leader. You see, war leaders are often either not good leaders in peace time, or aren’t really given the opportunity; look at Churchill for example. Looking back, it seems pretty mean spirited of the British people to have kicked him out of office only months after he won us the hardest fought war of all time. More about the possible reasons for that later, but for now, back to Emmeline.
As a ‘war’ leader (and the women involved certainly saw it that way) she had the goods. She was prepared to say the things that others were not prepared to say and do the things that others were not prepared to do. And she was a great orator and able to inspire others to say and do difficult things.
Because we don’t want to do difficult things if we can avoid it do we? We would much rather stay in our comfort zone and not cause a fuss wouldn’t we. But here’s the thing, the only way to get things changed is to get out of that comfort zone, and in order to do that ‘for a cause’ you need a leader who inspires.
There are historians who believe the militant turn in the suffragettes campaign did nothing to help them get the vote, but I am not too sure about that. There had been a lot of talking, and several votes in Parliament which had failed miserably to change the situation and the upscaling in activity, the famous chaining themselves to railings and the hunger striking and subsequent force feedings, certainly did add a momentum to the campaign and got women involved who might not otherwise have done so.
So, I think they created the awareness, which needed to happen, and I understand why some historians say it might have hindered the actual getting of the vote. I mean, why would people who had the vote (men) want to give it to women who were so militant and seemed ruled by emotion?
And it is always good idea, when trying to persuade someone to your point of view to make sure that the grown up is in charge and not the inner child. The Inner child is the one who has a strop when things don’t go their way, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes the inner child is needed to provoke action. However, before actually taking action it is a good idea to make sure the grown up is in charge.
For example, Emily Davison, the lady who throw herself in front of the King’s Horse (whose name was Anmer) at the Epsom Derby in 1913. Now this is in no way a criticism of her action, I wasn’t there, I didn’t know her. It’s just a question. Who was in charge that day? The Inner Child? Full of excitement or tantrum and maybe overestimating her own immortality. Perhaps the grown up was in charge, who had fully worked out all possible scenarios and had made a heroic decision that this one action would change the course of the campaign. She certainly did it off her own initiative and with none of the ‘party leaders’ aware of her plans.
No-one can say for sure her intentions, but suicide seems unlikely in that she had a return ticket to London, a ticket for a dance later that day and several appointments for the following week in her diary. Someone who knew her at the time said she did not intend to die, but was prepared to if needed. And here’s a bit of controversy – this action put others at risk too; the jockey Herbert Jones who was injured and Anmer the horse (who wasn’t) and maybe she was just trying to pin the suffragettes colours to the horse or get some attention for the cause but….
So maybe there was another way that wouldn’t have had to involve her death. Perhaps with a bit more collaboration and conversation, an equally effective but less fatal solution, could have been found. Perhaps she could have changed her story without losing her life?
Because here’s the thing. Many surveys have shown that mixed boardrooms make better decisions. Grant Thornton found the value being lost from the lack of diversity was $655 billion. See below for the link to the pdf.
Because you need differing points of view to come to the best solutions. No man, or woman, is an island. And whilst dramatic gestures CAN change things, it is very arguable that the campaign as it was would have had the same effect. There is no evidence to suggest that things were changed because men were afraid more women were going to go and throw themselves in front of horses.
In fact, the turning point actually came when Emmeline Pankhurst suspended all activities after the announcement of war in 1914 and threw her efforts behind recruiting women to do ‘war work’, arguably a much more effective way of showing what women were capable of, and which got the public opinion and support behind the movement which the more militant activities (blowing things up, breaking shop windows, setting post boxes on fire), had not.
So, 100 years on and in a month’s time (8 March) we are celebrating International Women’s Day and we have some great speakers who will be sharing their insights on business, health and personal development. We will also be welcoming Marie Diamond who you may remember from The Secret (yes, a book of collaboration between men & women). Our event will be held at the Salford Marriott, we welcome both men and women to attend.
And that’s why we encourage our WHY’s women and men to work together and we celebrate that with an annual award – which we held last week. Congrats to all our finalists Martin Sharp, Roger Cheetham, John Vignesh, Judith Wright, Clare Ellis and Kerry Bartley and Angelika Breukers and especially to Judith and Martin our winners in the category because they asked for votes and were rewarded by the people who recognised them as the leaders in their categories.
Because this is not the time for ‘them and us’. This is not the beginning of the 20th century. This is a brave new world where collaboration is king (and queen), and where men and women can work together to achieve health, wealth and happiness in life and in business. If you would like more details on our event email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the link once the event page is open.
We only have limited places and so register your interest now.
On a side note if you are a male speaker and you want to speak at the event please contact me too.