5th March 2015, 9:42am
The historic struggle for women’s political rights
Emmeline Pankhurst, 1913 A historian from the University of Lincoln, UK, sheds light on the struggle for women’s political rights as part of a new television series currently being aired on the BBC.

Suffragettes Forever! The Story of Women and Power is a new three-part series which explores why, in the early 20th century, thousands of British women joined a violent militant organisation. In the fight for female political rights in Britain, the suffragettes are recognised as the most iconic group of activists; however the three hour-long programmes reveal that the story begins long before the success of these Edwardian women.

Professor Krista Cowman from the University of Lincoln’s School of History & Heritage features in the series to discuss the involvement of British women in a range of political campaigns.

Professor Cowman said: “It is important that we recognise the significance of the efforts of thousands of women who took part in many political campaigns both before and after the suffragettes. The suffragette campaign was the inevitable conclusion of a fight that women, rich and poor, had been pursuing for hundreds of years.

“My research has explored in depth the lives of women who worked as paid organisers for the militant Women’s Social and Political Union, as well as the activities of women involved in Chartism and the anti-slavery campaigns.”

Professor Cowman, who is renowned for her studies of women and politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, explores many of these themes in her book, Women in British Politics. Her research also explores the role of women as campaigners for post-war reconstruction in and out of Parliament, and in a number of community campaigns for safe play areas in the inter- and post-war period, through which women attempted to shape and control their own environments.

Professor Cowman features on the second episode of Suffragettes Forever! The Story of Women and Power, which was first broadcast at 8pm on Wednesday 4th March on BBC 2. Presented by historian Amanda Vickery, the programme shines a light on the extraordinary women who, during Queen Victoria’s reign, gradually changed female lives despite successive governments resisting giving women the vote.

The final episode, scheduled for Wednesday 11th March, explores how the Edwardian suffragette movement became a militant organisation and questions whether they are best understood as part of a battle still going on today.

For more information and to view episodes and clips from the series, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054q82y
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