How grateful are you for the freedom you enjoy today?
It’s been a long time since I blogged. There are many reasons for this time lapse but today something has moved me so deeply that I just must write about it. My topics are usually Nutrition, Conscious Eating or Self-Care for women. Today I’m compelled to write on a different topic & yet it is all about women & the freedom we enjoy today. As I write this I am on a flight from Perth to Brisbane to spend time with a group of women who inspire me on a regular basis. Just over 100 years ago this would not have been possible, not just because commercial flight was not possible but because women did not have the freedom to do what they wanted, particularly if they belonged to the lower classes. So what has prompted me to write about this?
I have just watched the movie ‘Sufragette’ & to be quite honest I’ve only just finished mopping up the tears. In fact I am so moved that it inspired me to put pen to paper. I’ve wanted to watch this movie for a while. I was well aware of the history of Emily Pankhurst who led the campaign for women’s rights but I was definitely not aware of the plight of women prior to this. I recently was amazed to find that several young women that I asked did not know what the suffragettes did or just how much they sacrificed so that women could enjoy the freedom that we do today. Every woman should be aware of the sacrifices these women endured for us, not to mention the horrendous lives many of them led before the movement began.
Emily’s campaign was far more wide-reaching than securing ‘the vote’ for women. It was about women’s rights in their entirety. In the movie the main character worked in a laundry factory – conditions were appalling. She worked there part-time from age 7 & full-time from age 12. This was not exceptional, most young girls from poor families were expected to work from a very young age to boost the family income, which was then handed over to the man of the house who had complete control of the finances in most cases.
The supervisor in the laundry had such power that he could easily find an excuse to fire a girl if he wanted & his demands included sex whenever he felt like it.
The movie’s main character was ‘fortunate’ enough to be ‘rescued’ by a man who was willing to marry her even though she wasn’t a virgin. He also worked in the laundry, he took her wages & used them as he wished, she had no say. They had a child. When she became involved with the suffragette movement he kicked her out of the home & put the child up for adoption. She had no legal rights in relation to the child so she could not prevent him from arranging the adoption.
Women involved in the suffragette demonstrations were beaten, arrested & force fed through nasal tubing when they went on hunger strike.
The way the sufragettes were treated was appalling. Their treatment was brutal in the extreme.
4 June 1913: Emily Davison walked in front of, and was subsequently trampled and killed by, the King’s Horse at the Epsom Derby. She gave up her life to bring world attention to the cause so that we could be free to live our lives today.
In the UK some women were granted the right to vote in 1918 but it was not until 1928 that women were granted the same voting rights as men. Even then a father could offer a child for adoption without the consent of the mother for some years. Australian women gained the right to vote in 1902 but this didn’t include indigenous women (or men). In Saudia Arabia women voted for the first time in 2015 & they are still not permitted to drive a car. These are things that we take for granted.
All women should give thanks to those who sacrificed much to provide us with the freedom that we enjoy today. If you have a chance to see the movie – go for it. I guarantee you will be moved.
Pam Bailey is a Health Coach, Helping Women Feel Good Every Day
Nutritionist, Conscious Eating Coach, Life Coach & Heal Your Life Workshop Facilitator.
She is an International Keynote speaker & workshop leader.
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