We have had a busy June this month! We started with a fabulous day at Well Street Common Festival where we made flower crowns, sold cake and generally chatted in the sunshine! There was even a gingerbread decorating station for the kids, which went down amazingly well with some beautiful ‘creations’ emerging…
For our main meeting we were joined by Esther from Share UK, who came to to discuss the struggle of East London’s suffragettes, in light of the centenary of the People’s Representation Act of 1918, which was a triumphant moment, allowing millions of women to cast their vote for the first time. Yet that day was not a celebration for everyone. Only around 40% of women were granted the vote. The poorest and most needy remained excluded from the franchise. For them, this was still the beginning.
Esther has spent many years researching the work of women activists in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. These three boroughs have been a hotbed of working class activism for centuries. At the heart of that struggle were the East London Federation of Suffragettes. Although led by Sylvia Pankhurt, there were many other notable figures whose names repeatedly get omitted from our history books. They were poor, yet as determined and brave as their West London sisters; while their more gentle activism broke new ground. They were also one of the few women’s groups to campaign for universal suffrage. Contrary to popular belief, many working class men in East London did not have the vote until 1918 either. It was another 10 years before truly universal suffrage came into being, which would not have been possible without the work of our East London forebears. We are hoping Esther might come back in 2028 to celebrate this event!
Our final cake-based activity for the month was the return of the tea dance, co-hosted by the Hackney Wicked Women and the Wick Award, at the Trowbridge Senior Centre. It was just as successful as our first event last year, with a lot of cake, dancing and general fun. Seems like this might become a permanent fixture in the calendar!