As a new statue of Emmeline Pankhurst is being unveiled in Manchester today, here's everything you need to know about her

A new statue of Emmeline Pankhurst is being unveiled in Manchester today [Photo: Getty]

A new statue of Emmeline Pankhurst will be unveiled in her home city of Manchester today, marking exactly 100 years since British women first voted in a General Election.

Hundreds are expected to march from the Pankhurst Centre, the birthplace of the suffragette movement, and the People’s History Museum before converging on St Peter’s Square at midday to see the memorial revealed.

As the leader of the suffragettes, Pankhurst is one of the most iconic women’s rights activists in British history.

The statue’s grand reveal has been described by organisers as the finale of a year celebrating the centenary anniversary of women getting the vote in the UK.

Commenting on the unveiling Helen Pankhurst, the great-granddaughter of the women’s rights activist, said: “Our Emmeline is not only a wonderful tribute to the life and work of Emmeline Pankhurst, but is also an incredible legacy to the suffragette movement and the role of Manchester’s women in campaigning for the vote.

“That she should be unveiled exactly 100 years since the day some women first went to the polls and a few first stood as MPs in a UK election is especially poignant.

“I hope that Our Emmeline inspires all those who are now helping to continue the ongoing journey towards achieving equality.”

The statue will be the first of a woman in Manchester since Queen Victoria was unveiled in Piccadilly Gardens in 1901.

For those who know the name but only have a vague knowledge, here’s a quick refresher on who exactly Emmeline Pankhurst was and exactly how much she changed the future lives of women.

Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Suffragettes which campaigned for the women’s right to vote [Photo: Getty]

Who was Emmeline Pankhurst?

Born into a wealthy and politically minded family on 14 July 1858 in Moss Side, Manchester, as Emmeline grew older she started noticing that men and women in the UK were often treated differently and decided she wanted to do something about it. 

After peaceful protests by the suffrage movement proved unsuccessful, Emmeline mobilised women to adopt more militant protest tactics and in 1903, alongside her daughters Sylvia and Christabel, Emmeline founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

The organisation quickly gained notoriety for its extreme protests with members of the WSPU, led by Pankhurst, taking part in large, often violent, demonstrations, heckling politicians during speeches and becoming embroiled in angry altercations with the police.

The protests often took the form of window smashing, arson and even hunger strikes, but though they undoubtedly succeeded in shining a light on the votes-for-women cause, they didn’t always go according to plan.

In 1913, WSPU member Emily Davison was killed when she threw herself under the king’s horse at the Derby as a protest at the government’s continued refusal to grant women the right to vote.

Like many suffragettes, Emmeline was arrested on numerous occasions over the next few years and went on hunger strike herself, which often resulted in her being violently force-fed.

After a brief pause in the protesting while Emmeline focussed her energies into supporting the war effort, in 1918, the Representation of the People Act gave voting rights to women over 30.

But the fight wasn’t yet over.

Though she died on 14 June 1928, aged 69, shortly after women were granted equal voting rights with men, at the age 21.

In 1999 she was named one of Time‘s 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century.

Titled “Rise up, women”, and designed by sculptor Hazel Reeves, Emmeline’s new statue depicts her standing on a chair while giving a public speech.

We can’t think of a more worthy statue recipient.

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