Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst was a political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement. In 1903, frustrated by the lack of progress in women’s right, Pankhurst and others founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to fight for social reform.

Born in in July 1858 in Manchester, Emmeline Pankhurst (nee Goulden) was introduced to the women’s suffrage movement at the age of eight. Against the wishes of her parents who wanted her to prepare for a life as a mother and wife, she enrolled at the École Normale de Neuilly in Paris.

At the age of 21 Emmeline married RIchard Pankhurst, a barrister and supporter of women’s right to vote. He encouraged her to activism outside of the home and in 1889 she founded the Women’s Franchise League.

The Women's Social and Political Union was an organisation set up by Emmeline Pankhurst. The Women's franchise league was seen to be an organisation that was not in touch with society so Emmeline later created the Women's Social and Political Union which was inspired by Christabel, her daughter.

The WSPU became known for its militant acts of protest, including organising hunger strikes and causing property damage. As a result, Emmeline was arrested half a dozen times between 1908 and 1912. Faced with such unruly and ‘unfeminine’ behaviour, many people treated the WSPU with distrust. As such, it never gained wide popularity.

The role of women in World War One gave weight to the arguments for political equality and contributed to their enfranchisement in 1918 hence Emmeline wanted women to give their all when it came to the war effort.

Emmeline worked for both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, the former before leaving for Canada(1919) and the latter right before her death in 1928. She stood for the seat in Whitechapel for the Conservative Party. 

What Emmeline Pankhurst will be remembered for most by many people is rather interesting, many regard her as a person who set the foundation for equal rights of women and the struggle they went through in order to obtain it at the begining of the 20th century.

MLA Citation/Reference

"Emmeline Pankhurst". HistoryLearning.com. 2024. Web.

Key facts

Name: Emmeline Pankhurst
Birth Date: 15 July 1858, Manchester
Death: 14 June 1928, Hampstead
Known for: Political activism and as a leader of the suffragette movement