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Dawn Butler MP addresses Intersectional Suffrage event

PICTURED: Dawn Butler speaking at the event in the House of Commons

DAWN BUTLER, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, spoke to a packed audience of young people at WebRoots Demoracy’s Intersectional Suffrage event in parliament this week.

The Intersectional Suffrage event was held following on from the centenary of some women being given the right to vote in 1918, but focussed on the women that didn't get the vote.

The 1918 Representation of the People Act gave around 8.4million women the vote, however this only included women who were over 30 years old and were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency. Full electoral equality for all women did not occur until the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928.

Butler and the group discussed Sarah Parker Remond, who was the only known woman of colour to have signed a petition on women’s suffrage. She was a prominent African-American lecturer, abolitionist, and agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

An international activist for human rights and women's suffrage, she made her first speech against slavery when she was just 16 years old. However the meeting also explored other hidden histories as Butler explained that during that time period, it would not have been as easily recognisable whether someone was black, for example, due to the legacy of slavery and descendants often bearing the names of former slave owners.

She said: “I was delighted to speak at the WebRoots Democracy Intersectional Suffrage event in Parliament. In this Centenary year it was important to celebrate the fact that some women gained the right to vote 100 years ago, but we must also recognise that there were so many women who were not afforded that right.

"I know from my experience as a black woman that to be black is to be both visible and invisible in society at the same time, depending on whether someone wants to attack you for being black or ignore you for being black. And we know that we have to break down centuries-old barriers to get into places that weren't even designed for us, and today too many groups still face disadvantage.

"The suffragettes also remind us that women of colour are often overlooked. Now we must look forward and tackle the structural barriers facing women and those with protected characteristics so that we can achieve true equality for all. I encourage women to get involved, stay involved and make a change.

"Labour will be taking the next steps in order to achieve full gender equality. The five key areas underpinning our vision for women’s equality include: Access to justice, Health and wellbeing, Economic equality, Leadership and representation and Protection for women. Labour will ensure that we help, not hinder women.”

The event also explored current voting behaviour amongst class, gender, and ethnic divides, and aimed to give attendees a broader picture of women's suffrage and of female political representation and participation in 21st century Britain.

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