It’s been only just over 100 years since women successfully fought for the right to vote. A fact I hadn’t necessarily forgotten, but one that hadn’t really ever been brought home to me.
Take but a short step back in time, and you’ll find yourself in a world where women were the chattel of their fathers and then their husbands. The meagre wages they eeked out were duly handed over to the men in their lives. They had no rights to the children they carried and birthed.
Suffragette, the film, stars Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter and Mery Streep. It's set in Edwardian Britain, in 1912. Asquith is the Prime Minister and Lloyd George a key political figure. For many decades now, women have been campaigning for the right to vote; they've been writing letters, meeting politicians, giving testimony and protesting in the streets.
And yet, still, women are denied the right to vote.
Watch the trailer. Post continues after video...
The activist and leader of the Women's Social and Political Union Emmeline Pankhurst, has declared that suffrage will only be won through 'deeds, not words.'
Standing in the crowd, listening to Pankhurst are the fictional characters, Ellen, Violet and Maud. It is Maud the story centres on. Forced into hard labour in a commercial laundry at age 12, Maud is quietly aware of the injustice that seeps through her life. We learn that she was abused by her employers, we see her hand over her wages to her husband, we see her denied access to her child.
Suffragette is a fictional story based on historical events. Emmeline Pankhurst most certainly did encourage women to take action, arguing that for too long their words had fallen on deaf ears, and parts of the Suffragette movement heeded her calls, destroying property, shutting down postal and cable services and violently protesting.
The movie is directed by Sarah Gavron. It is the product of ten long years of research, making it a true reflection of the time Suffragette is set, and the experiences of the women who fought, and whose legacy we enjoy today. It is not a romantic film, It's gritty and raw. It leaves open the question, is violence justified?
I left the cinema feeling deeply moved. I couldn't help but reflect on how lucky I am, how lucky we are. It was our great grandmothers that asked for a better life for us, that fought for our equality and for us to have justice.
Have you seen 'Suffragette'?