February 6th 2018 marked the hundredth anniversary of UK women first achieving the right to vote. In that same month NCW’s celebrations began with an event in Nottingham. Working in Partnership with the Head and staff of Nottingham Girls’ High School members of East Midlands Region and other colleagues became part of a whole school celebration, as girls from every age group enjoyed dressing 1918 style and parading their desire to vote. They also valued the opportunity to put normal lessons aside and discover what we owe to those who campaigned with courage and conviction for the franchise.

NCW members were part of a special event for Sixth Formers. This took place in “The Space”, NGHS’s new Performing Arts centre, whose facilities enhanced what happened.

East Midlands members, Jan Leventhall and Barbara Maddison, presented key facts about the past, the reason for the event. They highlighted pioneers like Millicent Fawcett and the Pankhursts, the impact of suffragists and suffragettes and the significance of women’s efforts on the home front in World War One.

Then it was time to think about the present day as Year 13 students led three workshops, focused on Women in Power, Women in Business and Overcoming Misogyny.

In the final session three keynote speakers drew everyone’s attention to the future. Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, Nora Senior CBE, Executive Chair UK Regions and Ireland of Weber Shandwick and Elizabeth McKenna, Apprentice semi-finalist emphasised the need for women to be confident and determined in pursuing their aims. Self-belief is crucial.

Finally, those in The Space joined NGHS students of all ages for a suffragette rally. It was a day well spent, one which mingled gratitude, responsibility and challenge as key themes for everyone involved. Above all, for NCW, it was a privilege to share with so many younger women in that greatest of all emotions – HOPE!

Barbara Maddison
February 2018