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UK Feminista Suffragettes To Rush Parliament

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It's been more than 100 years since Emmeline Pankhurst rushed parliament, demanding that women get the vote.

Now, her great-granddaughter Helen, along with grassroots organisation UK Feminista (and some of the Olympic opening ceremony suffragettes) is leading a group of young feminists for a very modern lobby of parliament.

Why? According to Kat Banyard, author and founder of UK Feminista, because it’s about time women were listened to.

"The demand has changed but while there have been massive advances since then we've still got a very long way to go,” she tells The Huffington Post UK.

emiline pankhurst

On 19 February 1906 Emmeline Pankhurst led hundreds of women to the Houses of Parliament to lobby MPs

“I think we've seen a massive rolling back of women's equality in the past two years... there has been a resurgence in feminism, a doubling of feminist activists groups, but at the same time we've got increasing threats coming from parliament to hard won rights," she says.

“Too often the issue of women's rights and sexism is left off the agenda and only by us all taking action will we make sure it's put back there and that we see the advances that we so desperately need."

suffragettes marching london

Suffragettes marching in London

Banyard says women’s inequality has been a “side issue” in parliament, pointing to recent “attacks” on abortion time limits by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and culture secretary and women’s minister, Maria Miller.

“What we'll be doing on Wednesday is putting feminism and women's rights back where they belong, at the heart of government,” she says.

Then there's Page 3, which Banyard describes as “emblematic of the sexism that is still rampant in this society.”

uk feminista

Banyard describes Page 3 as 'emblematic of the sexism that is still rampant in this society'

“Page 3 is but one part of a wider problem of women being relentlessly objectified and dehumanised. On Wednesday we'll be calling on urgent action by the government supporting recommendations in the Leveson inquiry to stop discrimination against women in the press,” she says.

The group will be joined by Bpas, the Fawcett Society, end violence against women coalition Women for Refugee Women, Daycare Trust and Object as well as Conservative MP Amber Rudd, Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Yvette Cooper who are all speaking at the “unique event.”

In response to questions about if she should just calm down (dear), Banyard maintains that there have been a series of “backlashes” against women’s rights.

“The reason that people are mobilising and coming to parliament is to create a world where women and men are equals, we need to take action,” she says.

"What is clear is that women's inequality and the fact their voices aren't being heard has real consequences.. the fact that the government have enacted a series of devastating cuts to welfare and services, the fact that they didn't take into account the fact that women live different lives means they have been hit disproportionately by these cuts.”

Then there’s cuts to domestic violence services, which she claims are putting women at risk.

The group, which Banyard expects will be hundreds-strong will ask MPs to take action to end the “sexualisation” of women in the media, take action to support women seeking asylum, protect reproductive rights, support investment in childcare for all and ask schools to support education about prevention of violence against women and girls - a shopping list of demands which will gain support from MPs across the country.

In a statement, Dr Helen Pankhurst said she lobbying the Commons was "as urgent and vital as it has ever been", 106 years after her great-grandmother did.

"In the century since the Suffragettes lobbied parliament much has changed for women, yet age-old inequalities persist and new forms arise.

"Politicians and other leaders can and must do more to tackle the serious injustices against women that persist - and the human rights violations that they contribute to - and that continue to thwart our potential as a society.

"Women and men coming together on one day in a mass lobby of parliament is a perfect way to remind our leaders that we expect more from them – they can and must do more!"

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