As we enter 2018, we will be hearing a lot more about women’s fight for political equality, celebrating 100 years since females were allowed to vote.
Most of the women I have written about have strong links to the campaigns for women’s suffrage. For much of their lives, these women had no vote and so little political power, but that didn’t stop ‘my ladies’ (as I think of them) making a significant impact in the world.
Take Agnes Weston (featured in Scandal Salvation and Suffrage – the Amazing Women of the Temperance Movement). She lived openly with another woman, Sophia Wintz, and, in recognition of all the work she had done for sailors, she was the first woman to be granted a funeral with full naval honours.
Lady Henry Somerset was a staunch campaigner for women’s suffrage although she was not a militant. She was a suffragist who believed in the power of reasoned argument and often addressed meetings on the subject. She upset many of the Executive Council members of the British Women’s Temperance Movement (BWTA) by wishing to include suffrage as a major issue in the association’s work. This led to a split in the ranks. It wasn’t that the her opponents didn’t want women to get the vote; it was because they thought this wasn’t an issue in which the BWTA should get involved. So they set up The Total Abstinence Union to campaign solely on the temperance issue and Lady Henry steered the newly named National British Women’s Temperance Union to include many women’s issues, including suffrage, in its agenda.