Deeds Not Words: Dr Helen Pankhurst CBE talks about women’s rights

We were extremely fortunate to have a visit from Dr Helen Pankhurst on Tuesday 3rd December to talk to us about her take on Women’s rights - past, present and future.

The past is obviously a very important foundation for her, being the great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and the granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, both well-known Suffragettes, but she is also heavily involved in her role as activist for women’s rights, and for human rights more widely. She is the author of Deeds Not Words, the Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now which was published to mark the centenary of some women gaining the vote in 1918.

Indeed, the structure of her talk very much echoed this approach. For each section Helen spoke to us about her findings from her research and experiences, before opening it up to questions but importantly points of view from the floor. We were also encouraged to grade our own views on certain issues, such as have women achieved social, legal and economic equality, from 0-5 with a show of hands, whereby we raised the number of fingers that we thought women were on this scale. Helen then invited points from the audience to justify why we had graded it in a certain way.

Helen interspersed her talk with anecdotes to raise the point that whilst we have indeed come far, there is still a way to go. She encouraged the audience to discuss ideas on what we could do in order to improve women’s rights going forwards, before finishing with a fascinating clip from the CARE International’s annual #March4Women ahead of International Women’s Day in London, which Helen leads each year.

We were so very lucky to have her come and talk to us, and the girls were especially inspired by her.

Mrs Samantha Handy, Head of History and Politics