Womens Vote


One Voice held an event honouring the suffragettes, which attracted nearly 80 women and girls form Blackburn and Darwen.

‘Votes for Women, Women for Votes’ celebrated the 100-year anniversary of the Representation of the People Act which first gave women the right to vote. The act gave some women and all men the right to vote in local and national elections.

Speakers at the event included Sifa turn (WEGs) Councillor Jackie Floyd, Councillor Saima Afzal, and Kate Hollern MP

The One Voice girls group, the WEGs wanted to use this event to remember the key figures that made this happen, from the suffragette and suffragist movements, including Emmeline Pankhurst and Millicent Fawcett.

The event embraced how these women and many others impacted our lives today. But this was just the beginning as only women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote and those who owned land, or their husbands owned land, worth more than £5. It wasn’t until 1928 that parity with men was achieved.

Also in 1918 Parliament passed the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act which allowed women to become MPs for the first time. It stated simply that women were not disqualified by sex or marriage from sitting or voting as members of the House of Commons. There were no such restrictions about women being MPs, meaning they could be elected from the age of 21, the same as for men.

Sifa Turi (West End girls Lead) and Ayah Abdul Salam (host)

Speakers at the event held at Bangor Street Community Centre included MP Kate Hollern, Councillor Saima Afzal, Councillor Jackie Ann Floyd and Sifa Turi, leader of the WEGs.

Jackie urged more women from Blackburn’s BME community to get involved in politics. “I would urge you all to join a local party, by doing so you can herald a change in the lives of all the people living in Blackburn and Darwen.

“I think this afternoons event has been absolutely brilliant because its bought women from Blackburn of all ages into the same room at the same time to recognise the work that the suffragettes and suffragists did and that it hasn’t stopped, that it’s a continuum and to get some justice for all. It is a continuum that people from a working-class background and all backgrounds, its time for them to step up to the plate.”

Kate Hollern spoke about the importance of the women in the Match Women’s Strike in 1888, and how they, alongside the Suffragettes made the change for women as they challenged the atrocious working conditions they were subjected to. Kate also spoke about her own journey.

“Sometimes you have to get angry to make a difference, because you feel so passionate about your subject.” Kate also urged the women of One Voice, particularly from the Women’s Network and WEGs to become more politically involved.

“It’s been a fantastic event and hopefully it’ll encourage more young girls to get involved in politics. Politics is in every day life, you have an amount of money you know how you’re going to spend it and set priorities and make sure those priorities help the people.”

The five speakers at the Votes for Women, Women for Votes Celebration event

Saima Afzal spoke about her mother being a spiritual suffragette in her own life and how she inspired her to get involved in politics. She stood up to any challenges and has become one of the first South Asian women to become a councillor in the town of Blackburn.

‘It is a privilege to work both with One Voice and the WEGS and women in particular. I really hope I can come and do some work with you all around the empowerment journey.”

Sifa Turi said, “In four years time I will be able to vote but had it not been for the efforts of the suffragettes, that would still be a dream. Women have been given the vote, however, for me the battle isn’t over!

“In 2017, 208 female MPs were elected in the general election, but this is still less than a third of all MPs. Less than a third of local government councillors are female. Success for me will be when we have complete parity.”