Emmeline Pankhurst – English reformer
Emmeline Pankhurst was the English reformer who led the movement for women’s suffrage in Great Britain.
Emmeline Goulden was born on July 4, 1858 in Manchester. Emmeline was the eldest of five daughters. She also had five brothers. At the age of 14 she accompanied her mother to a women’s suffrage meeting. The next few years Emmeline spent in Paris attending school. After her return she married Richard Pankhurst, a barrister and an activist in radical causes, especially in women’s suffrage. They had four children.
In 1880, Mrs Pankhurst began a campaign to get the vote for women. At first, she and her supporters (known as ‘suffragettes’) spoke at public meetings, wrote articles and gave out leaflets. When politicians ignored their campaign, they threw stones at the windows of the Prime Minister’s house and interrupted Parliamentary debates shouting ‘Votes for Women’. One suffragette even threw herself in front of one of the King’s horses during an important horse race and was killed. Suffragettes were often arrested and sent to prison.
In 1903 Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel formed the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).
In 1908 Pankhurst declared that the suffragettes would either convert the ministry by force or see ‘‘the Government themselves destroyed.’’ In the same year Pankhurst was arrested for the first time.
During the First World War (1914-1918) the women stopped their campaign and worked in factories and hospitals. In 1918, women over 30 were allowed to vote and in 1928 those over 21.
Mrs Pankhurst died on June 14, 1928, on the day that Parliament agreed to this. Two years later, a statue in a park near Victoria Tower in London was erected in her honor.
In 1999, Time magazine included Pankhurst into the hundred most prominent people of the twentieth century.