March in London commemorates century of women having vote
‘Processions’ event used suffragette movement’s colours for banners and costumes
Thousands of women gathered on Sunday in London and other UK cities to mark 100 years since women won the right to vote. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP
Thousands of people marched through the streets of London on Sunday to create a living piece of art to mark 100 years since women were granted the vote. Dubbed “Processions”, the march featured hundreds of handmade banners, period costumes and purple, white and green sashes – the colours of the suffragette movement.
Those taking part marched from Hyde Park down Piccadilly, past Trafalgar Square and down towards the river. Women’s groups from all over the country attended, many with their partners and children. The event was co-ordinated by 14-18 Now (an art programme connecting people with the first World War) and Artichoke (which stages large-scale art events in public places). The organisers said their intention was to form “a living portrait of women in the 21st century and a visual expression of equality, strength and cultural representation”. They added: “Processions celebrates the fight for suffrage and expresses what it means to be a woman today.” Similar marches were also staged in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.
One group of friends travelled from Wokingham to take part. Helen Shah (42) said: “We came because we wanted our children to understand what happened 100 years ago and that they can’t take for granted all the things they have now. My daughter, she loves science, she loves cricket – the things women fought for.” She added: “You can read books but taking part in something like this is so much better.”
Phoebe Bolton and Yasmin Ahmadzadeh (both 26) brought their homemade banner from Finsbury Park. Ms Bolton said: “It’s an opportunity to support freedom for all women.” Ms Ahmadzadeh added: “We want to carry on what those women were fighting for 100 years ago.”
A group of soldiers in uniform also joined the March. Lt Col Debs Taylor, from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, told the Press Association they were an army contingent made up of three or four different regiments in and around London. She said: “We came down today because obviously we wouldn’t be where we are today if there hadn’t been a change in attitudes.”
A group of New Zealanders based in London sang traditional Maori songs and wore traditional dress to the march. They pointed out that New Zealand women were granted the vote 25 years before their British counterparts, so they were celebrating 125 years of women’s equality.
Parliament granted the vote to women over 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, graduates or who lived in property with rents of more than £5 a year in 1918 after decades of campaigning by women’s groups and in the aftermath of the first World War. The vote was extended to all women over the age of 21 in 1928 – equal terms with men.