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Why I'm marching to mark the centenary of women getting the vote


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I'm marching to remember how far women's rights have come, and acknowledge how far we still have to go.

On Sunday 10th June, thousands of women in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast will take to the streets to mark the centenary of women finally being allowed to vote. 

Suffragette march

PROCESSIONS, organised jointly by 14-18 Now and Artichoke, is a live art movement which aims to represent the diversity of modern womanhood, bringing together everyone who identifies as a woman, whilst remembering the sacrifices of those in the past.

By marching in groups dressed in green, white and violet, the entire march will become the suffragette flag, with many of those involved carrying banners inspired by the ones the suffragettes themselves would have carried during their marches.

Community workshops and local parties have been set up to help women create these banners, using art to express each individual's experience of being a woman and how this relates to their campaigning predecessors.

The marches are one of a number events taking part this year to celebrate 100 years since the Representation of the People Act was passed in 1918, allowing women over the age of 30 with property to vote for the first time.

I will be among these women marching on Sunday, and can't wait to be part of this exciting art venture. 

However, for me, and many others, this march goes far beyond art for two reasons.

Firstly, and perhaps obviously, it is a great way of remembering and celebrating the struggle it has taken to get to this point.

The fact that hundreds of suffragettes gave up their time, freedom and even their lives to give the women of today the right to vote is incredibly humbling, and something all women should be thankful for.

While I can't thank every suffragette in person, marching in their honour is, at least in my view, a great way to show genuine appreciation that they gave up parts of their lives to give us better ones.

Secondly, even though the suffragettes were responsible for great leaps forward in women's rights, for which I'm extremely grateful, I'm also marching to acknowledge that the job is not done.

Although there have been significant improvements, women are still paid, on average, 77% less than their male peers doing exactly the same jobs.

Equally, a recent study showed that women between 15 and 44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than they are from car crashes or cancer.

While we may have the vote, it is clear that gender equality is still a long way off (127 years, in fact, based on estimates by the World Economic Forum). 

Just as the issue of suffrage was overcome when women grouped together and stood up to the authorities trying to silence them, I strongly believe the issues of today can be conquered in much the same way.

That's why I'm marching.

To find out more about the marches, or sign up to one of them, check out PROCESSIONS here.

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