They estimate around 100,000 women took part in Processions 2018 on Sunday 10th June across the UK in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage.
It was a commemoration of the mass marches of the Suffragettes and Suffragists campaign and a reminder there is still more to be done in regard to equality and the treatment of women even in 2018.
Myself, Sue Harris, Karen, Jan, Jack and Sheila got the train from Bognor and spent the majority of the trip looking out for other women boarding the train with their banners and dressed in green, violet or dressed as Suffragettes.
We made our way to Park Lane and Hyde Park to be met with the most beautiful and colourful banners that wouldn’t have looked out of a place in a stately home, such was the workmanship. They were truly works of art. Hyde Park was the first of many wrong locations we found ourselves in, for we had entered the area for the ‘professional banners’, so we sat down, had our lunch and soaked up the atmosphere.
Another two registration tables later, we got our green scarfs. The whole procession was to be a living art statement with each woman wearing (however they like) a green, white or violet scarf. We then meandered along the street following all the other chattering, smiling ladies and their banners and flags. At around 2pm the Procession officially started with a rousing cheer from the crowds (cue the first of many goose bump moments.)
We then walked leisurely in the sunshine for another 2.6 miles, occasionally stopping due to the many, many women in front of us. This gave us the opportunity to look at the banners, talk to other ladies, admire our surroundings and revel in the pedestrian London we were experiencing.
A helicopter continually buzzed above our heads, capturing the moving suffragette colours we were creating between the historic buildings. Camera’s (professional, tourists and fellow marcher’s ) clicked away.
In London alone, more than 30,000 women joined the procession and my last ‘goose bump moment’ was as we were nearing Parliament Square and the end of the Procession; hearing the all female Guildhall School of music brass band playing away, whilst we had another enforced stop. I just soaked up all the positivity, colour and took a moment to appreciate being at such a historic event, I was very proud to be a woman, felt very empowered and privileged to be representing the Women’s Institute. (There were apparently at least 40 WI’s represented.)
Talking to the other ladies at the June meeting:
Karen’s favorite moment was walking down Whitehall, were she used to work and being part of such an amazing day.
Jan’s memory was the powerful vocal Mexican wave that reverberated along the procession a number of times during the march, in particular as we were approaching Trafalgar Square.
Jack was overwhelmed by just being with all the other women, seeing them wearing their scarves, the conversations with total strangers, the trust and positivity in a city where you usually wouldn’t talk to anyone you didn’t know.
Sheila’s impression of the day was the power of women and the thought of what we could do together if we all believed in something or wanted to change it.
Sue’s memory was thinking back to when she was a Londoner and walking the streets she had walked many times before; in particular walking past the memorial to the Women of World War II and then Downing street where a Woman Prime Minister currently resides. Approaching the Houses of Parliament she was struck by the fact that the Suffragettes must have also walked this path with Parliament as their target. In the midst of all the beautifully crafted banners, Sue’s favorite was a very simple one that just said “For Grandma”. She thought how proud that woman must have been of her Suffragette Grandma and wondered what the Suffragettes would have made of our Procession? It was at that moment Sue cried!
Words – Katie Lyne
Photos – Katie and Jan Marsden