Letter: Beyond suffrage

March 1, 2002

Brian Harrison's quirky constitutionalist rewriting of women's suffrage history (Letters, THES , February 15) is on a par with his misconception of Sylvia Pankhurst's role.

The campaign for her statue is not based solely on her suffrage work. She fought for working women on maternity and equal pay. She supported Indian independence, challenged racial prejudice and was one of the first to recognise the dangers of fascism. In 1921 she exposed Mussolini's populism. When, in 1935, his army invaded Ethiopia, she worked for its liberation. She gained friends in Africa and in the black diaspora for her efforts and her weekly papers, New Times and Ethiopia News . She campaigned for an allied victory in the second world war and assisted Jewish refugees. Can the same be said of most male politicians and soldiers whose memorials fill public spaces?

Mary Davis
Centre for Trade Union Studies
University of North London

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