Sunday, 11 October 2009

Gude Cause

Yesterday saw the Gude Cause March 2009, a re-enactment of a march for woman's suffrage held in Edinburgh in 1909. It's aim was to commemorate the women who fought for our right to vote, to celebrate woman's achievements over the last century, and to 'draw attention to what still needs to be done'. In fact, there was a brilliant turnout from a wide range of woman's groups, including a huge showing from the various regional branches of Scottish Women's Aid, the STUC with their 50/50 banners- calling for equal representation women at all political levels-, engender with their call to recognise poverty as a woman's issue, Women's History Scotland with their banner reminding us that women's historical contribution is still under-researched and under-represented, and numerous other women's organisation who are fighting to make a change to women's position TODAY. And, it was a fabulous day and great event.

But, it is being reported as a historical re-enactment and nothing more. The BBC reports:

Suffragette march marks centenary

The parade re-enacted the march in Edinburgh 100 years ago. About 2,500 people have taken part in a parade in Edinburgh marking a key suffragette demonstration which took place 100 years ago. Participants carried banners and dressed in historic costumes in Saturday's re-enactment of the original march in the capital in 1909. The movement was a fight for women's rights which lasted almost 60 years. At the time hundreds of people took banners and flags to join a rally along Princes Street on 10 October 1909. Women were finally awarded the vote in 1928, but on Saturday their fight was remembered as people took part in a re-enactment of that day. It is the culmination of a summer of activities that has seen traditional protest banners and quilts being made, and a major exhibition about the movement at Edinburgh museum. Tram works mean the procession could not follow the original route along Princes Street but it started at Brunsfield Links and finished at the top of Calton Hill. The suffrage movement spanned almost six decades. Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop, who joined the procession, said: "Without the suffragists and suffragettes we would still be stuck in an age when women couldn't own property, they couldn't hold public positions and they couldn't vote. "The suffrage movement made a lasting contribution to Scottish democracy and society. They led the way for women to have their voice heard and towards an end to discrimination and prejudice." Ms Hyslop said some of the biggest suffragette demonstrations were in Edinburgh. "The city saw the first suffragette to be force-fed in a Scottish prison, Ethel Moorhead, imprisoned in Calton Jail," she added. "I think she would have found it hard believe that one day the offices of the Scottish government would stand on that very spot, a government not only elected by women voters, but including women ministers." Anne McGuire, Labour MP for Stirling, said: "I wouldn't be allowed to be a politician today without the struggle of the suffragettes. "These women changed political life forever in the UK, allowing women to enter what was at one stage a male-only arena."

There is no mention that this was a call for future change. The march itself was divided into three sections- past, present and future, with people in the past section dressed as suffragettes, and the rest of the crowd dressed in other costumes or the suffrage colours of white, green and violet. The present was the largest section of the crowd by far and there were several children's organisations (and children!) in the future section, which was fantastic. But the only photographs being shown on the BBC are of women dressed as Edwardian suffragettes. The speeches by the female politicians reported here all included calls for concrete changes that needed to happen to make society more equal, but, there is no mention of this. Their words are restricted to their comments celebrating their forebearers. The radical edge of this movement is quashed and an invigorating and exciting demand for social change is turned into a historical anachronism.

There is a flickr site for people to upload their photos to- I forgot my camera, but I'll try and steal some good one's when they posted.

ETA: Actually, STV is slightly better, it includes this statement: The organisers say the aim of the event is to remember the 1909 march, whilst also drawing attention to the problems women still face around the world, such as domestic violence, forced marriage and human trafficking.


Anna said...

It sounds like an amazing event: wish I'd been on the ball enough to have known about it, and I've tried to make it across from Glasgow. No matter how it's been reported, it's brilliant that so many people turned up in the name of women's rights.

Feminist Avatar said...

yeah it was good and the atmosphere was great.

Christian Feminist said...

It was quite amazing wasn't it! I was marshaling at the back and was near quite a lot of school groups who were just SO GREAT. I especially loved the girl power chants.

Feminist Avatar said...

Yeah I was impressed by the amount of children and young people, especially the teen goth drumming group- they were fab.