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Sophie and the Suffragettes: the Countess of Wessex marks women’s vote centenary

The Countess of Wessex has paid tribute to Suffragette leaders at a special event in London. Sophie officially renamed three towers at the London School of Economics after some of the most high profile campaigners, one hundred years after women were first granted the right to vote in Britain.

The countess attended a ceremony at Clement’s Inn in the capital on Friday November 23rd to name the buildings after Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. The towers are in the same place as the London base of the Women Social and Political Union, set up by Emmeline Pankhurst and supported by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence.

During her visit to the LSE, the Countess of Wessex also visited a special exhibition focused on some of the key figures in the campaign for female suffrage. Fifty nine women and men who worked towards winning the vote for all are remembered in the display. Sophie also got a chance to view the Women’s Library at the institution which is home to a collection of documents linked to the suffrage campaign. Some of its most important possessions include the papers of Millicent Fawcett and the Fawcett Society which was set up to campaign peacefully for women’s rights.

Ahead of the naming ceremony, Sophie met present day students to discuss the impact of the suffragette movement and the issues surrounding equality and women’s rights today.

The countess also met two high profile campaigners for equality issues at the ceremony. Dr Helen Pankhurst, a visiting professor at the LSE and a great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, and Caroline Criado-Perez, formerly a student at the college, also took part in the event. The LSE Pro-Director for Research, Professor Julia Black, said the organisation had a long history of support for the women’s suffrage movement and the decision to rename the towers in the centenary year was ”celebrating a landmark moment in gender equality and political history”.

The centenary commemorations mark the 1918 Representation of the People Act which granted the vote to some women in the UK for the first time. To qualify, women had to be over the age of 30 and fulfil pre set property ownership requirements. Around 8 million women won the right to cast a ballot in parliamentary elections because of the law change. Full female suffrage was achieved in 1928 when all women over the age of 21 were given the right to vote on the same terms as men.

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