Eight inspiring schemes have received funding as part of the government’s women’s suffrage centenary celebrations.
Earlier this year, the government announced that it would be awarding £1.1million in funding to projects that honoured the spirit of the centenary of partial women’s suffrage. Large schemes that aimed to increase young people’s engagement with democracy and encourage more women to take part in public life were invited to apply for the Women’s Suffrage Centenary Grant Scheme, which will allocate money to projects throughout 2018.
The government was criticised in February for failing to organise a significant amount of funding in time for the anniversary of the Representation of the People Act 1918, but now – a little over two months since the centenary – the first round of large-scale funding has been announced. Eight inspiring projects in England have been given £600,000 in total to support their work, including schemes that train women to become leaders in their communities and events celebrating the lives of the suffragettes.
“It is vital that we honour the legacy of the brave and determined women who fought for the equal rights of women and men, and have paved the way for the freedoms we enjoy today,” said Victoria Atkins, the government’s minister for women.
“I am delighted to be awarding funding to these innovative, exciting projects that will inspire women and young people from all over the country, and follow national celebratory activity that has already begun under the small grant scheme.”
The grant scheme is part of a £5million centenary fund, created by the government to celebrate 100 years of partial women’s suffrage. The rest of funding will go to a programme of celebratory and educational activities for young people and women, initiatives to encourage more people to participate in politics, smaller-scale events and activities, and a statue of Millicent Fawcett – the first ever statue of a woman in London’s Parliament Square.
Read more about the pioneering projects being backed by the centenary grant scheme below.
Young Women’s Trust
Young Women’s Trust supports young women in England and Wales who are on low or no pay and at risk of being trapped in poverty. It has been given £58,350 in funding to help ensure young women’s voices are heard. The charity will deliver training to women aged 16 to 30 across the country to build their confidence, give them practical skills and enable them to share their views.
Dr Carole Easton OBE, chief executive at Young Women’s Trust, tells stylist.co.uk: “We are delighted that, on the anniversary of women’s suffrage, we have been awarded this funding to help ensure young women’s voices are heard.
“A hundred years on from gaining the vote, women remain under-represented in decision-making. Our work is shaped by young women for young women and we are excited to be able to offer our training opportunities to more people and move closer to achieving equality for women.”
Saathi House supports, promotes and empowers women’s health, education and employment in Birmingham. It has been awarded £68,972 to offer training, including political leadership development workshops, to Bangladeshi and Pakistani women in Birmingham, Bradford and Keighley.
With two branches in Bristol and Leeds, the Feminist Archive houses national and international material related to the history of feminism including books, diaries, letters, posters, records, leaflets and videos.
The Feminist Archive will receive £50,780 to celebrate and learn from the legacy of the Women’s Liberation Movement, uncovering untold feminist narratives through digital learning, educational workshops and a touring exhibition in the south-west of England.
Good Things Foundation
Good Things Foundation is a national charity that helps socially excluded people improve their lives through access to digital media, education and technology. It has received £124,311 in government funding to run a democracy project called Voicebox Cafes, aimed at encouraging women living in disadvantaged areas to understand and participate in democracy and public life.
Voicebox Cafes will be run in 50 communities across England as informal sessions, facilitating space for women to discuss and debate political issues and organise local campaigns.
“We know women experiencing disadvantage – particularly those from black and ethnic minority groups, younger women and those lacking educational attainment – are least like to engage with democracy and political processes,” says Helen Milner, Good Things Foundation’s chief executive.
“We’re aiming to change this in 50 communities through the Voicebox Cafes project, giving women a voice, showing them the importance of the vote, and helping them to make a real difference on the issues that matter to them.”
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
£114,748 has been given to the National Trust to deliver workshops and exhibits exploring modern women’s issues within a historical framework, linked to National Trust properties in the East Midlands, North East and South West of England.
Cinema For All
This national organisation (previously known as the British Federation of Film Societies) is the national organisation supporting community cinemas, film clubs and societies. It will receive £65,582 in funding to commission an archive film chronicling women’s political and civic lives over the past 100 years and run a series of celebratory screenings, discussions and events across volunteer-led cinema venues in the North of England.
“As a female-led organisation, we are delighted to be awarded this funding,” says Deborah Parker, CEO of Cinema For All.
“Through screenings of archive film at volunteer-led venues, our project honours the sacrifice of those who achieved women’s suffrage 100 years ago, as well as celebrating modern day female heroes and preserving their stories through film.”
Jacksons Lane is an arts and cultural venue in Haringey, north London, dedicated to promoting contemporary performance, arts participation, cultural education and outreach community work.
It has been allocated £65,788 to work in sixth forms in three schools in Haringey, creating learning installations exploring women’s rights and roles in society. One installation will focus on women in 1918, another will explore issues affecting women in the present day, and the third will imagine women’s rights in 100 years.
“What is really exciting about this project is the young women taking part will get to work with a talented female-led team and have ownership of the worlds they create,” says Stuart Cox, head of participation at Jacksons Lane.
“This project will give so many young women an opportunity to learn about women’s history with democracy and use that knowledge to think about how they want things to be for women in the future.”
Essex Cultural Diversity Project
The Essex Cultural Diversity Project was launched in 2007 to support BAME artists and arts organisations in the county. It promotes a range of culturally diverse creative projects and organisations in Essex, from working with museums and libraries to running outdoor theatres and festivals.
It has been granted £60,025 to develop a range of events in the east of England celebrating the life of Indian suffragette Sophia Duleep Singh. Find out more about her here.
Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.
Images: Courtesy of Young Women’s Trust and Jacksons Lane / Getty Images