8 March 2018
As inspirational women across the world are celebrated today on International Women’s Day, the women’s suffrage movement in Sheffield received lasting recognition with a commemorative plaque at the site of a former suffrage shop on Chapel Walk.
The plaque was unveiled today as part of ongoing celebrations marking 100 years since some women were given the right to vote in Britain, honouring the strength and determination of all the women who campaigned for the vote.
Following a successful crowd-funding appeal, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Olivia Blake gathered at the site today, with other inspirational Sheffield women and aspirational girls from The Sheffield Young People’s Equality Group, to reveal the newly installed plaque.
The struggle by British women for suffrage began in the mid-nineteenth century and the first known suffrage society in the country, The Sheffield Women’s Political Association, was founded in Sheffield in February 1851. Run by women for women, the association passed a resolution in support of the suffrage of adult women, which was submitted as a petition to the House of Lords.
In 1908, Adela Pankhurst, daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, (WSPU) opened, one of the very first suffrage shops in the UK, with the Suffragettes of Sheffield.
The shop on Chapel Walk and its upstairs committee rooms were the regional headquarters of the WSPU, from which the Suffragettes made big efforts to get the vote for women.
Ten years later, the Representation of the People Act 1918 came into force, giving women over 30 the right to vote in all national elections.
Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, Councillor Olivia Blake, said: “I feel proud to be here on International Women’s Day honouring the tireless fight that many brave women put up, to make sure all women have a voice in our society.
“From political figures and sports stars, to astronauts, authors and academics, Sheffield has a reputation for strong, inspirational women throughout history and in the present day, and I wonder if any of that would have been possible without the efforts the Suffragettes more than a century ago.
“Sheffield is an inclusive city and we strive for equality for all people, not just women. I hope this plaque and what it represents, will inspire many people to stand up for what’s right and make a difference, for generations to come.”
Through a crowd-funding campaign, started by Nikki Bond, Women’s Officer for Sheffield Central Labour Party, £700 was raised to design, make and install the plaque.
The plaque was designed in the women’s colours by The Young Women’s Equality Group, who have been campaigning for the plaque since 2010.
An exhibition of materials relating to the Suffrage movement was also on display throughout the day at the art-space adjacent to the plaque location on Chapel Walk.
Centenary celebration events continue to take place throughout the year, up to mid-December, the date when the first women’s vote took place in 1918.