Emmeline Pankhurst is considered one of the leaders of the suffragette movement in Great Britain. Emmeline Pankhurst was born in 1858 and died in 1928.
Emmeline Pankhurst was born in Manchester, nee Goulden, and married Richard Pankhurst. He was a firm believer in the social and political emancipation of women and his ideas did a lot to bolster the beliefs of Emmeline.
Richard Pankhurst died in 1898 but he left his mark on Emmeline. In 1889, both Emmeline Pankhurst and her husband had founded the Women’s Franchise League. This movement had a specific agenda but was seen to be hopelessly out of touch with society. By 1903, Emmeline’s daughter, Christabel, had persuaded her mother to form a far more militant organisation – the Women’s Social and Political Union.
During the famous militant acts of the WSPU, Emmeline Pankhurst took on a decisive role that saw her being arrested on a number of occasions – six times between 1908 and 1912. As the Suffragette movement became more militant, so society took a more hard line view on their activities. The 1913 Derby and the act of Emily Wilding Davison shocked and outraged society. However, during World War One, Emmeline Pankhurst encouraged all women to do what they could for the war effort. There is a definite link between the work women did in World War One and their enfranchisement in 1918 – though historians have questioned just how important that link was.
In 1919, Emmeline Pankhurst emigrated to Canada, having left the Independent Labour Party. She stayed in Canada until 1926. Ironically, just before her death in 1928, she was adopted by the Conservative Party to stand for the seat in Whitechapel.
For many people, Emmeline Pankhurst symbolises the struggle women made at the start of the C20th – a struggle that garnered its fruit in 1918.