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International Women’s Day Virtual Event

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Church House Westminster hosted an interactive virtual event on Monday 8 March 2021 featuring special speaker, Becky Laxton-Bass, founder of Women of London.

Marina Papadopoulou, Business Development Manager of Church House Westminster, welcomed the virtual attendees who joined the event from all over the globe.

She wished the attendees a Happy International Women’s Day and confirmed that it is a special day as we join together to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Marina also thanked the audio-visual and production team of Church House Westminster for facilitating the event.

Marina welcomed the guest speaker, Becky, and thanked her for agreeing to share her specialist knowledge and deep understanding of women’s history with us today.

Becky confirmed that it was a great opportunity to highlight the importance of women’s history. She conveyed that her talk today aims to highlight how the UK suffrage movement inspired other movements around the world. Becky noted that she selected a few aspects for the talk today to show how impactful these movements can be, how methods can change and be adapted and generations can learn from history especially when it comes to inspirational women.

Becky explained that International Women’s Day is important to increase the visibility of women’s history and achievements. She cited the following examples, illustrating the lack of representation:

  • 14% of blue plaques in London are of women
  • 2.7% of individual statues in the UK are of historical non-royal women
  • There are more statues of men called John than there are of historical non-royal women

Suffrage in the US

Becky shone a light on Harriot Stanton Blatch and Alice Stokes Paul, who were both exposed to the growing suffrage UK movement before the First World War. Both women had connections with Emmeline Pankhurst who toured the US in 1913.

Suffrage and India

In fighting towards freedom from colonial rule, Gandhi wrote about the inspirational suffragettes after witnessing suffrage marches in both 1906 and 1909 and seeing the court case of a suffragette in the UK.

Becky also mentioned:

  • the poet Sarojini Naidu who worked alongside Annie Besant, and
  • Sophia Duleep Singh princess and goddaughter of Queen Victoria, who used her allowance to bail out the suffragettes in the Uk and help fund the movement in India.

Second-wave feminism

Becky spoke about the inspiration behind the Redstockings of the Women’s Liberation Movement in 1969, as well as books such as‘The Second Sex’ and ‘The Feminine Mystique’.

In closing, Becky elaborated to say that Leonara Cohen, who lived to the age of 105, was one of the very few suffragettes who were still around when second-wave feminism started. This illustrates the importance of seeing the inter-connectivity of these movements, in order to improve women’s position in society. Until equality is achieved, these movements will persist.

Watch the full recording, including the question and answer session on YouTube 

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