Processions: 1918 – 2018

Today my friend Judith and I took part in Processions in Edinburgh. The event, taking place in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Belfast, was a ‘living artwork’ displaying a river of suffragette colours through city streets, commemorating 100 years since the first women in the UK gained the right to vote.

The National Gallery pillars standing in solidarity

Everyone gathered at the Meadows, and we went round admiring the wonderful banners that various groups had made.

We were organised into groups and given either a green, white, or purple scarf, and at 2pm the first groups started gradually streaming out.

Time to set off

It was glorious seeing a sea of women and girls (teenagers, tweens, tiny young girls, with their mums and friends, bearing feminist slogans!); seeing all the hard work put into beautiful things bearing powerful messages of solidarity and determination; seeing how far away some groups had come from; and knowing that every one of them was here to stand up and be counted. These were my people.

I’ve only recently heard about the involvement of people from around the British colonies in the movement for enfranchisement, such as Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, which really struck me. Of course, it didn’t end in 1918, as it was only women over the age of 30 who owned property who were allowed to vote at that point. It then took a further ten years for all women, and indeed all men, to finally have this basic civil right, which I’m sure had an impact and influence outside Britain as well. When Malaysia gained independence in 1957, both women and men over 21 were able to vote on their futures from that point.

Around 4 pm the procession flowed into Holyrood Park, with stunning Arthur’s Seat in the background.

The finish line, reminding us that each of our votes; each of us, makes a difference.

And as everyone cheered on the final women and banners through, we took heart from what we were part of today, went away for well deserved rest, and resolved to come back to continue the fight for gender equality.

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