The PSA Women and Politics Specialist group recently teamed up with the Birkbeck Centre for the Study of British Politics & Public Life (led by Prof Sarah Childs), and the British Group of the Interparliamentary Union to host a two-day conference in the Houses of Parliament entitled: “A Hundred Years of Women’s Suffrage: Looking back, moving forward”, on 22nd and 23rd May.
Day one included academic panels on situating women’s suffrage, and feminising politics in the contemporary United Kingdom, before a conversation with Maria Miller MP, Dawn Butler MP, and Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society. Day two kicked off by bringing together academics and Vivienne Hayes of the Women’s Resource Centre to discuss the future of gender equality in the United Kingdom. This was followed by a roundtable on Devolution and Gender, featuring Megan Fearon, (Sinn Fein), Niamh Smyth TD (Fianna Fail, IRL), Liz Saville Roberts MP (Wales), and Kirsty Blackman (SNP, MP). Day two also saw a panel of MPs including Alison Thewliss MP, Gavin Newlands MP, and Stella Creasy MP, sharing their experiences of acting on gender equality within the house.
The final event of the programme was a session on Women’s Civil Society Engaging with Parliament, hosted by Parliamentary Outreach.
Overall, the conference was hugely successful in bringing together academics, civil society actors, and elected representatives to both celebrate and interrogate the Suffragettes’ legacy, as well as focus on future challenges and opportunities for women’s political representation.