Heart pounding to the rhythmic beat, suffragette banners held aloft with pride, and dressed in green, white and purple we strode through London. Tens of thousands of women processed through London to celebrate the UK centenary of giving (some) women the right to vote, and a few of us New Zealanders snuck in to celebrate reaching 125 years of the same milestone.
My heart was in my mouth and a tear quietly in my eye for the majority of the route.
From Park Lane we walked, sashed in green, white and violet; the UK Suffrage colour formation standing for “Give Women Votes”. Processions in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast created a living portrait of women.
It’s a memory that I will always cherish.
We fell in behind one of the New Zealand banners, held aloft with pride.
We wound through the city; from Park Lane, down Picadilly, through Pall Mall, past Trafalgar Square and down to Parliament.
The banners were epic to say the least. We spent much of the procession pointing out the witty and pointed banners – many left over from the 2017 marches through London, I’m sure.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world to give women the vote, acknowledging that we are equals to our male counterparts – which is how society should be. They marched too and I am SO proud of this. All sexes have our weaknesses and strengths that play to our characters and chosen roles in society, but we should have the intrinsic right to be treated without discrimination. The choices individuals make from there on are theirs to live with the consequences.
Our ancestors fought to be treated well and equally. Men and women have sacrificed their lives to ensure parity in so many areas of our society, to modernise outmoded and often incredulous schools of thought.
This is all we want (summarised beautifully by this Girl Guide banner.) Equality. Diversity. Humanity.
Is that so much to ask for?
As we snaked through the city, we walked down Whitehall. Past 10 Downing Street and quietly, respectfully past the Women in War memorial.
Generations of women walked, wheeled and hopped (a good friend of mine recovering from hip surgery even partook.)
Why did women globally feel the need to take up banners and stride the streets of the world en masse, fighting and sometimes losing their lives?
They marched on behalf of women, for the less-able, for the LGBTQI community, for racial minorities who fought so hard for the recognition that they too are equals and for immigrants who give back to the cultures that have welcomed them so far from home.
This will hopefully create another generation of feminists who will fight corruption on every level possible, even though all they want is a society where having to be a feminist isn’t necessary. People should be able to live in a society where rights are equal and fair. They should expect basic human decency.
I’m prouder than words can adequately say.
Over 100 years ago, a procession of women led by Emmeline Pankhurst march through London to show the government their willingness to help in any war service. Today, women across the UK come together to celebrate 100 years of votes for women with #PROCESSIONS2018. pic.twitter.com/0f4F8okly1
— Imperial War Museums (@I_W_M) June 10, 2018
I again implore you to turn your energies towards positive action. Volunteering, education, supporting the arts, paying attention, donating, lobbying and above all else VOTING. If you don’t have your say and raise your voice, nothing will change.