Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Inside parliament's historical collection commemorating 100 years of votes for women

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent, Libby Wiener

Outside parliament, a statue commemorating Emmeline Pankhurst stands as a memorial to the suffragette movement.

But until recently there were few other items in the Palace of Westminster to commemorate the struggle for women's votes.

Now, 100 years on, an artwork entitled New Dawn by Mary Branson commemorates the long campaign that led to some women getting the vote in 1918.

'New Dawn' symbolises all the laws passed in parliament without women's consent. Credit: ITV News

Commissioned in 2015, the sculpture made from metal and illuminated glass and represents parliamentary scrolls for all the laws passed without women's consent.

Other artifacts held in parliament show the sacrifice that women went through as activists.

These include a hunger strike medal awarded to Caroline Downing, with an engraving that reads: "Fed by force. March 1, 1912."

Co-curator of Vote 100, Melanie Unwin. Credit: ITV News

Force feeding women in prison was widely seen as a form of torture.

Melanie Unwin, co-curator of Vote 100, said: "I think people had very mixed views but many of them viewed it as torture. And if you read Caroline's own account of force feeding, it clearly was torture for her, it was incredibly painful."

A male-dominated parliament appeared determined to keep women out and Suffragettes tried to protest in any way they could.

These bolt clippers cut the chains of protesting women. Credit: ITV News

One group even chained themselves to parliament's window grilles and the bolt clippers used to free them remain in the building today.

"These were boughy specifically to cut campaigning Sufragettes off the building wherever they were and they are a fabulous thing and still very much a working instrument in parliament," Ms Unwin said.

In the end it was the efforts of women during the First World War that ensured they got the vote.

Caroline Downing's medal for undergoing a hunger strike. Credit: ITV News