As part of our Women of Wealden Suffrage exhibition we welcomed Nus Ghani MP for Wealden to introduce a talk exploring inspiring Sussex women throughout history. Nus took to the floor to share her experiences of being a woman in politics today and how she is a champion for women’s equality in her politics. She said,
“As an MP in parliament I do not have to justify my gender to represent one of my constituents, nor do I have to justify the way in which I represent someone because of my gender, that is how is must be in society too and in every community, in every family and in every organisation, but that unfortunately is not the case throughout the country. In my constituency in Wealden men earn 20.8% more than women doing similar jobs and we must champion these women.”
“I know when I visit my Primary Schools they need to see what they can be. I often talk about engineers as we don’t have enough and we need more women doing it. I say if you want to be an MP regardless of if you are Labour, Conservative or Liberal the green benches are a welcome place for you.”
The Women of Wealden exhibition explores and celebrates the 100th anniversary since Parliament passed a law which allowed some women, and all men, to vote for the first time – the 1918 Representation of the People Act. In the spirit of these powerful and inspiring women our Education Officer Nicola Stewart went on to speak about some little known inspiring historical figures such as:
- Barbara Bodichon (1827-91) Whatlington, nr. Battle – Early champion for women’s suffrage
- Marie Corbett (1859-1932) Danehill – Member of the Board of Guardians for the Uckfield Workhouse, co-founder of the Liberal Women’s Suffrage Society and the East Grinstead Suffrage Society, member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.
- Dorothy Levitt (1882-1922) Bexhill – the first British woman racing driver, holder of the world’s first water speed record, the women’s world land speed record holder, and an author. She was a pioneer of female independence and female motoring. Nicola worked with Helenswood Academy in 2015 to discover more about this pioneering woman who we can credit today for the rear view mirror in our cars. (See the full project video below)
During her research Nicola discovered that women are hugely under represented in the Blue Plaque scheme with less than 10% of the Blue Plaques sited within East Sussex representing women. Nicola said,
“There is still some way to go until we, as a society, fully acknowledge and value the contribution these women in history have made to our county. As it is the centenary year for #VOTE100 we felt it was important to celebrate these pioneering Sussex women during our current exhibition and what better person to work alongside us but Nus Ghani, as the first female MP for Wealden. I would encourage everyone to come and visit the exhibition and learn more about the struggle these women endured to allow us the right to vote and have our voices heard today”.
Visit the Women of Wealden Suffrage exhibition open 10am-4pm daily until Saturday 2nd June.
Nus Ghani is collecting stories of current inspiring Women of Wealden – would you like to nominate your Mum, sister, daughter, aunt, cousin for her inspiration work in the community – click here and nominate her. #WOWsuffrage
This exhibition can travel so if any local group or historical society would like to host the exhibition after this date please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org