Category Archives: News

100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

WAND Patron Tracey West gives a summary of the suffrage movement as we celebrate 100 years of The Representation of the People Act, 1918 which was passed on 6 February 1918.

‘Suffrage’ is the right to vote in public affairs and political elections. It commonly marks the long and winding road that describes female emancipation and universal suffrage for women, which is being highlighted throughout February across the country.

WAND are hosting a week of inspiring events that chime with the passion roused within the suffrage movement. It happens to coincide with the centenary of The Representation of the People Act, 1918, the commencement of which finally allowed British women over the age of 30 who met certain property qualifications, to vote for the first time. They went on to exercise that right at the general election later that year.

The suffragettes were a phenomenally fearless and driven group of ladies. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they rose up in a variety of ways that included lobbying MPs and disrupting the House of Commons and Parliament. By 1903, Emeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, decided the movement needed to be more radical if change was ever going to come and their campaign became positively militant. Property and art were frequently destroyed and their members were regularly incarcerated. They protested frequently by embarking on hunger strikes, to which the authorities retaliated by force-feeding them; this evil process was only suspended due to the outbreak of war in 1914.

Tragically, suffragette Emily Wilding Davison gave her life to highlight the cause by throwing herself under the king’s horse in the 1913 Derby. Her half-brother, Captain Henry Davison, gave evidence about his sister at the inquest, saying she was, “A woman of very strong reasoning faculties, and passionately devoted to the women’s movement”.

Long before the suffragettes came along, Elizabeth Heyrick was another lady of guts and substance. She was a political reformer in the anti-slavery movement and in 1824 she published a pamphlet: ‘Immediate, not Gradual Abolition’. She campaigned passionately in favour of the emancipation of slaves in the British colonies, thereby rocking the boat and challenging the system. William Wilberforce was a man onside with the idea of change. He batted on the same team and went on to become the voice of the abolition movement in Parliament. Yet commenting about Elizabeth Heyrick, he disparagingly said, “For ladies to meet, to publish, to go from house to house stirring up petitions – these appear to me proceedings unsuited to the female character as delineated in Scripture”.

Emeline, Emily, Elizabeth and countless other women have endured unimaginable pain and hardship as a result of their tireless activism in the fight for women’s rights. They’ve bravely stuck their heads above hostile parapets calling for social reform and trying to evoke positive change. Speaking as one who has tried to do it in respect of domestic violence, I can tell you it usually comes at a price.

History more frequently recounts the actions of suffragettes who were unashamedly physical activists. It talks far less about suffragists, who also campaigned vehemently for women’s right to vote, but they adopted a completely different strategy to draw attention to the cause.

Under the leadership of Millicent Fawcett, a peaceful corps of women were consolidated. Millicent headed The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies for over 20 years, which was founded in 1897 via the merger of the Central Committee, National Society for Women’s Suffrage and the National Central Society for Women’s Suffrage.

They truly believed they’d achieve their end using peaceful tactics with non-violent demonstrations, via petitions and the lobbying of MPs. Millicent believed that if their organisation was perceived to be intelligent, polite and law-abiding, they’d prove themselves ‘responsible enough’ to participate fully in politics.

Millicent’s peaceful methods were unquestionably pivotal in helping to secure the vote for six million British women and a statue of her holding a placard that says, ‘Courage calls to courage everywhere’ is being erected in Parliament Square, London. She used these words in an address she gave following the death of Emily Wilding Davison.

As history sprinkles a layer of dust on the stories of these important women, we must remember our right to vote was hard won – that ‘X’ really matters.

Suffragettes of Note

Ethel Smyth: composed the suffragette battle anthem, The March of the Women. She responded to Emeline Pankhurst’s call to break a window in the house of any politician who opposed votes for women and along with 100 women, she was arrested and served 2 months in Holloway Prison. When Thomas Beecham went to visit her, he found suffragettes marching in the quadrangle singing, as Smyth leaned out of a window conducting the song with a toothbrush.

Kitty Marion: a successful music hall artiste, she worked her way up from the chorus, to named parts, to stand-in for a lead role, before falling out with her employer. She continued to seek work in the music halls and discovered that some employers expected sexual favours in exchange for the best jobs. Marion became a prominent activist in the suffrage movement, frequently engaging in protests and was arrested numerous times. Her activism led her to be force-fed more than 200 times in 1913 alone.

Edith Rigby: joined The Women’s Social and Political Union and was spat at in the street by her neighbours. She marched on the Houses of Parliament in 1908 and was arrested with 56 other women. She served a month in prison and took part in hunger strikes and was subjected to force-feeding.

Mary Leigh: an active suffragette, was incarcerated at Winson Green Prison. She protested by breaking her cell window, whereupon she was moved to the punishment cell and immediately commenced a hunger strike. Her account of being force-fed is harrowing. She documented: “I was then surrounded and forced back onto the chair, which was tilted backward. There were about ten persons around me. The doctor then forced my mouth so as to form a pouch, and held me while one of the wardresses poured some liquid from a spoon; it was milk and brandy. After giving me what he thought was sufficient, he sprinkled me with eau de cologne, and wardresses then escorted me to another cell on the first floor. The wardresses forced me onto a bed (in the cell) and two doctors came in with them. While I was held down a nasal tube was inserted. It was two yards long, with a funnel at the end; there was a glass junction in the middle to see if the liquid was passing. The end was put up left and right nostrils on alternate days. Great pain was experienced during the process, both mental and physical. One doctor inserted the end up my nostril while I was held down by the wardresses, during which process they must have seen my pain, for the other doctor interfered (the matron and two other wardresses were in tears) and they stopped and resorted to feeding me by spoon.”


Inspirational Woman Awards

Venus Awards LogoThis year Bournemouth University is supporting the Venus Awards (

The award in question is the Inspirational Woman Award – for a woman that goes out of her way to help others.  Bournemouth university are keen that they receive nominations for female unsung heroes in the community.

In order to nominate you need follow this link: where you will be asked to register and fill in a short online form.  The nominations are now open and close on the 28 May 2015.

Cook the Italian Way – recipes from Dorset Women’s Day

DWD 2015 CookingA huge thank you to Anne Reed for giving us her recipes.

For those who were not at the workshop OO is an Italian flour which is graded by colour (English flour is graded by both colour and by gluten content or strength (e.g. plain, strong, extra strong).


Bread Dough

  • 1kg OO* flour
  • 300g semolina
  • 35g salt
  • 50g fresh yeast
  • 200ml extra virgin oil
  • 600ml 37° water

Sieve the flour, semolina and salt together. Whisk the yeast in to the water.  Then stir in the oil.  Pour the liquid into the dry and mix to a dough. knead well until it is smooth and pliable.  Put in a large oiled bowl and cover with cling film.  Place in a warm area of the kitchen until double in size.  When ready divide up to make a variety of different items.   Re-prove again before baking.

Pasta Dough

  • 300g OO* flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt

Beat the eggs lightly.  Sieve the flour and salt together.  Combine and mix to a smooth dough.  Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least an hour.  Roll out on a well floured board and use as required.


Dorset Women’s Week – do you want to be a part of it?

Dorset Women's Day 2015 PosterEvery year WAND hold an event to celebrate International Women’s Day and this year it will be taking place on Saturday 14 March at the Dorford Centre in Dorchester from 10am – 3.30pm.

The event is free to attend and will offer a range of activities and talks which will fit with WANDS 2015 theme – Empowering Women.

In addition, this year we really would like to extend the scope of the event by working with partners to put on a range of different activities throughout the week leading up to this flagship event. We’re calling this Dorset Women’s Week (DWW).

DWW is being launched on Friday 6 March with a debate between local council/parliamentary candidates about how they will be supporting women if they win their seat in the 2015 election.

WAND would like to invite you to contribute to our programme by running an activity aimed at women as part of DWW at some point between 6 and 14 March.

This could take the form of a special promotion aimed at women, a workshop or an activity.  It could be something new but it is also an opportunity for you to advertise activities you might already be running for women.

WAND will be collating all partner activities onto one programme which they will be widely disseminating and producing 5000 paper copies of (deadline for submission of information is Friday 30 Jan).

We think this is an excellent opportunity for some joint working to really highlight local opportunities for women and we hope you will join us.

If you would like to get involved in the Dorset Women’s Day event on the 14 March – perhaps running a stall or a short work shop – or you would just like to volunteer for us for a couple of hours then let us know.

To be part of our 2015 events, or if you would like more information, please contact:

Emma Scott (Community Development Officer): West Dorset District Council, South Walks House, South Walks Road, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1UZ

01305 252204 or 07971 220067 (daytime only) or

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

End Violence Against Sex Workers LogoDecember 17th is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and an event has been organised in Dorset on that day to support it.

It will begin at Bournemouth Library at 3.30pm, where we will hear from various guest speakers regarding their work and commitment to ending violence against sex workers.  At 5pm we will be taking to the streets to walk through Bournemouth town centre and it will end at St Paul’s hostel at approximately 6pm.

During the walk we will be handing out flyers informing the general public of our plight.  To complete the event there will be tea/coffee available at St Pauls (BCHA) hostel and a selection of cakes on offer.  The symbol of the event is a red umbrella, bring one along if you are able.

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Reclaim the Night, Dorchester: 2014

Reclaim the Night, Dorchester 2014A fantastic night was had by all on 29th November, as WAND held its annual Reclaim the Night walk through the streets of Dorchester. This year, it was a real family affair, as we welcomed men and children for the first time.

The evening got under way and found its beat with the brilliant Organic Rhythm who led a lively samba drumming workshop in the Town Hall which is the usual venue for this event, just upstairs from the Corn Exchange.

Everyone then took to the streets with their instruments and marched through the town drumming as they went. Molly Rennie, a wonderful advocate for the Women’s Refuge, carried one half of the Reclaim the Night banner and the other side was supported by one of gentlemen who attended.

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FGM: an interesting piece in the Guardian today

Surgical instrumentsToday’s Guardian Woman reports that campaigners against female genital mutilation (FGM) have cautiously welcomed government moves to require professionals to report suspected cases of FGM, but have also warned of the risk of alienating communities and forcing the practice further underground.

The government launched a consultation today into mandatory reporting of FGM that will ask which professionals should be forced to report, how it should be introduced and what punishment frontline professionals should face if they fail to report an incidence of FGM, click here to view the consultation.

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