Exactly one hundred years ago, The Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed through parliament, giving women the power to vote. Even though only women over 30 were allowed to vote at the time, it was a huge jump for feminism due to the selfless bravery of the Suffragettes.
Since this act, feminism has come a long way, from gaining the right to vote all the way up to today with the Time’s Up campaign and the #MeToo, raising awareness for sexual harassment. Today, an exhibition in collaboration with the East End Women’s Museum chronicles the lives of and stories of the women in East London who carried on the cause over the past 100 years.
The exhibition, Making Her Mark: 100 Years of Women’s Activism in Hackney, looks at these women throughout their courageous battle to break glass ceilings, including education, workers’ rights, healthcare, domestic violence, the peace movement, and police relations.
Co-founder of the East End Women’s Museum, Sarah Jackson talks about this exhibition, saying: “Hackney has a very rich history of women’s activism across a huge range of issues and we’re extremely proud to share these stories of women’s courage, creativity, and determination in the borough; from the struggle for the vote to the present day. We hope visitors will leave feeling inspired to challenge injustice and inequality and perhaps with some new ideas to draw on.”
The stories in the exhibition are powerful and inspiring, one of these stories is of Olive Christian Malvery. The undercover journalist was of Anglo-Indian background and is most famous for going undercover as a street singer, street peddler, factory girl, shop girl, costermonger, waitress, and barmaid to investigate the working conditions of women and children in London. Christian Malvery was commissioned by Pearson’s Magazine for a seven-part series to report on her investigation, leading her eventually to write a book and become a public figure, cementing her place in feminist history.
Many other stories are told in this exhibition, including The Humble Petition which people who lived in Haggerston signed for their right to vote. These are just some of the many events that are featured in the exhibition, showing the bravery of these women who paved the way for future generations.
Even though feminism has come a long way, there are still many problems that block the path to true equality. This is why this exhibition is powerful as it is important to look to the past to inform and inspire our future.
Making Her Mark: 100 Years of Women’s Activism in Hackney is at the Hackney Museum until May 19th