Four huge parades will take place in the UK’s political capitals in June – and you could be there.
This Sunday, four huge parades will take place in the UK’s four political capitals – London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast – to celebrate 100 years since the first women in Britain got the vote. Dubbed Processions, the parades will be televised live on BBC One, and will include members of more than 100 women’s organisations from around the UK.
Anyone who identifies as female is welcome to join one of the processions, which will form a “living portrait” of what it means to be a woman in 2018. Everyone who takes part will be given a cotton wrap to wear in the suffragette colours of purple, white or green, to create a moving flag that flows through the streets.
Participants are also invited to sew their own fabric flags and banners – a tribute to feminist textile art throughout the generations. Fashion designers Vivienne Westwood, Roksanda, Anya Hindmarch and Holly Fulton are among those creating handmade banners to be carried on 10 June, while Tatty Devine has also created a special jewellery collection in collaboration with the Fawcett Society especially for the big day.
Helen Marriage is the artistic director of Artichoke, the public arts events company behind Processions. She describes the parades as “an invitation to women and girls across the country to become part of a vast artwork that will celebrate what was achieved 100 years ago, and asks what that means to women today”.
“Communities of women are working all over the UK to create banners in the tradition of the suffragettes, who always marched with these amazing banners,” Marriage tells stylist.co.uk. “We’ve got everyone from 16-year-olds through to 85-year-olds stitching away.
“It’s not like a traditional demo where you might get a cardboard placard or something; it will be all beautifully made, hand-stitched stuff. People are looking at the history of the suffrage movement and then creating their own banners talking about the issues that face women and girls today.”
Mhairi Black, the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South and the youngest member of the House of Commons, will be attending the Procession in Edinburgh.
“I am and always will be grateful to all of those women who risked everything and some who paid with their lives so that women were able to vote,” she says. “If they could do that for us, the least we can do for them is to remember them properly.”
Processions has also won the support of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who recorded a video praising the event organisers. “I hope these celebrations are a chance for us to honour the women who have paved the way for us, but also to remember we have more work to do as we strive for gender equality,” she says.
While anyone who identifies as female can join a Procession on the day, the organisers are asking participants to sign up to allow them to plan the day more effectively. Register for free and find out more at processions.co.uk.
Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of women who’ve made a difference, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.
Images: Courtesy of Artichoke