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What It Means to Be a Woman in 2018: Dr Helen Pankhurst

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What It Means to Be a Woman in 2018: Dr Helen Pankhurst

To celebrate 100 years of Suffrage in the UK, we’re asking a host of women of note to answer our Q&A


Dr Helen Pankhurst is the great-granddaughter of Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, international development and women’s rights activist and author of  She will also be speaking at Southbank Centre’s  festival which runs 7-11 March. Here, Helen answers our ‘what it means to be a woman in 2018’ Q&A, to mark 100 years of suffrage; the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed on 6 February 1918.

Helen Pankhurst

Helen Pankhurst, photo by Virginie Naudillon

Dr Helen Pankhurst Q&A

It’s been 100 years since (some) women were granted the right to vote in the UK – how far do you think women have come in the last century?

In some ways, socially, politically and economically, let alone technologically, the world is very different, women and girls have many more opportunities and chances to thrive, the drudgery of their daily lives has much diminished and their choices increased. However, in other ways women’s personal fears are very similar – particularly the overarching context of the fear of violence and the living with casual sexism and institutional misogyny.  There is a lot more to be said, see my !

What does it mean to be a woman in 2018?

I would like to think that it means we can be anything, do anything. For some women in the UK and around the world, that is the case.  However, the wings of far too many women around the world are still being clipped.  The question also needs to be looked at in the context of the same question for men – What does it mean to be a man in 2018?

What do women still need to achieve?

Whatever they aspire to achieve, greater power to put a stamp on the world and shape it in new and wonderful ways, less fear about what they look like and how they behave, more freedom to be themselves, better support from the institutions and the society that they live in.

Your personal proudest achievement?

Impossible to choose. My children and with the work with CARE International around the promotion of international feminism and a stronger women’s movement in the UK. This includes growing visibly of the #March4women marches ahead of International Women’s Day.

If you could teach young women one thing about being it woman it would be…

Be a feminist with an awareness of other intersections around privilege and vulnerability

And if you could teach young men one thing…

Be a feminist with an awareness of other intersections around privilege and vulnerability

Complete the following: In the next 100 years, I hope women will…

I don’t want to wait 100 years, I hope in the next ten years, feminist women and men will have radically transformed social norms so that we are more appreciative of each other and have stopped boxing people into simplistic categories.

In terms of the longer time frame of a centenary, I hope that the world woke up to climate change and global warming early enough to safeguard the planet and its inhabitants.

Helen Pankhurst will be speaking at Southbank Centre’s  festival which runs 7-11 March, supported by Bloomberg.  

Everything that’s Happening this Year to Mark 100 Years of Suffrage 

More women of note: Hannah Shergold |Juliet Sargeant Thomasina Miers | Charlie Craggs | Sabrina Mahfouz | Wendy Holden


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