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View from The Voice: Black women's role in UK history

SPEAKING UP: Dawn Butler MP (Photo credit: Getty Images)

LAST WEEK saw the celebration of a centenary milestone in Britain with the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act which gave women the right to vote.

However the contributions of women of colour to this historic milestone have largely been ignored as we highlighted inside this week.

The exclusion of women of colour within the suffrage movement still echoes today as there is hardly any evidence of their involvement with the movement.

This then leads to another question of how far are women from full equality. As MP Dawn Butler pointed out in a recent opinion piece, this momentous achievement 100 years ago was only the first step as it was another ten years of campaigning before women had the same voting rights as men.


CHANGE: Mary Seattle (Photo credit: https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/bme-workers-still-no...)

In her own political journey, she recalls encountering many derogatory remarks when she was first elected to parliament including from one fellow male MP who told her the lift she was in was not meant for cleaners.

Butler rightly says this is a stark reminder of how much further women of diverse backgrounds have to go to achieve equality. So while the celebrations of the suffrage movement rolls on the contribution of black women to British society should not be overlooked and this is why we have featured some of those who have broken down barriers over the last 100 years.

People like Mary Seacole who was a heroine during the Crimean War helping British soldiers wounded on the battlefield or Lilian Bader who was the first black woman to join the British Armed Forces and so many more we could mention.

It is imperative that the contributions of black women since the suffrage movement began must not be forgotten.

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