Looking out my window… it’s raining and we are forecast more snow overnight.
I am thinking… about submitting a short story to a competition. But which one? And which competition?
I am thankful… that I managed to finish my assignment today. A screenplay of just the right length (15 minutes), a commentary that was plumb on the 1000 word limit and a proposal for my final piece which was also bob on the 300 word limit. Actually, I’m not so much thankful as rather smug this evening!
One of my favourite things… is making a game out of deadlines and word counts.
I am creating… some crotchet blanket squares. I’m trying a new pattern which hopefully will look like a Celtic knot, but it’s a bit tricky so far.
I am wearing… long legged pyjama bottoms in bed at the minute. It’s a bit cold out there isn’t it?
I am reading … the new Elly Griffiths book which was delivered to my Kindle today. It is the latest in the Ruth Galloway series, which I love. Book review coming up.
I am praying… for healing in certain quarters. The Lord knows where.
I am learning… how to write effective (and hopefully interesting) screenplay.
In my kitchen… it’s the week before payday so we had one of our standby favourites tonight. Pasta, chorizo, peas and prawns with a bit of cheese on top. Delish!
Post Script… this week is the hundredth anniversary of the Act of Parliament that allowed certain women the right to vote in the UK. I wrote a post about it the other day and what it means for us in our society today. I’d love it if you would have a little read for me and leave me a comment on it. I want to have a conversation in particular about what the notion of “equality” means for us in our society today.
Closing Notes… I was sent a link to this video a few days ago and we sang it tonight at study group. It’s based on Psalm 92 and I thought you might like to have a listen too. Enjoy Graham Kendrick singing one of his new songs
I don’t usually do political posts, but today is different. Today marks the 100th anniversary of a turning point in women’s history, when in the UK an act of Parliament was passed allowing certain women the right to vote in the political system. It was only a turning point and it represents a huge step forward for the rights of women in society, and enabled some – a very privileged few – to have a voice in how our society was organised, judged, policed, financed and ultimately how it evolved.
As you may know, I am a proud Manc. I was born and brought up in Manchester, and I am not ashamed to align myself with the history of this great city. It is a city that gave birth to all sorts of innovation and creativity, and the people of Manchester are not shy at coming forward and bucking the trend of fashionable “trendy” thinking. It was the people of Manchester and surrounding Lancashire who stood by Abraham Lincoln and other anti-slavery campaigners at tremendous cost to themselves, facing starvation and extreme poverty because there was no work for them when cotton supplies were halted. The prevailing thinking of the governing classes all around the world was to turn a blind eye to the fact that cotton was grown by slaves, but the people of Manchester stood up and said “no”.
Manchester was the birthplace of the first national movement for women’s suffrage in the 1870s, and later was the home of Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), an organisation which began to formalise numerous other societies and movements around the country. Emmeline, along with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, were ardent campaigners and activists for the cause, often taking part in large parades and engaged in disruptive activities to bring attention to the work of the suffragists. There are some who still say that their actions were more akin to terrorism than demonstration and activism, and I guess when we look at what they did through our 21st century eyes we cannot fully understand or appreciate just how desperate women like them were to get society to recognise that women had a voice too. The desire for women to have a say who in who governed them, and to stand for election themselves simply cannot be fully understood from our viewpoint today.
There is a lot in the media today about this anniversary today and so there’s not much I can add to the story, only that the event 100 years ago was a turning point in a fight that still goes on today. It is a universal fight for women to be heard all over the world and it is a fight that has not been won yet. There are still parts of our world where women are classed and treated as inferior to men, and it’s not just in the so-called “third world” countries that we perhaps automatically think of.
Women in positions of power today
Even now, one hundred years after the first women were granted a voice in our political system, men outnumber women 2 to 1. According to the House of Commons Library 208 women were elected as Members of Parliament in 2017 (our last General Election), which represents 32% of all MPs. I don’t know what astonishes me more, the fact that even today, in 2018, only a third of our MPs are female or the fact that since 1918 less than 500 women have EVER been Members. The split between male and female MPs is different depending on the party (Conservatives 21%, Labour 45%, SNP 34%, LibDem 33%) which I suppose tells its own story (source BBC).
According to the Telegraph in September 2017, only 7 of the FTSE 100 companies in the UK have a female CEO, and even leaders in an organisation which is very dear to my heart – the Church of England – men outnumber women at a ratio of around 2 to 1. However, this is a glimmer of good news in that there has been a recent upswing in the number of women coming forward to be ordained, and last year’s figures show that there was an even split between men and women in training (source The Church Times).
Where are we now?
It may have started with a cry for “votes for women”, but it surely doesn’t end there. A quick dip into the European Commission’s 2017 Annual Report on Gender Equality tells us that women’s inequality is still as much alive today as it was back then. With sections of the report entitled “Reducing gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women”, and “Promoting equality in decision-making”, or even “Combating gender-based violence and protecting and supporting victims” among others, it shows us that women’s voices still struggle to be heard and there is more that divides us than unites us.
The movement that began in the Victorian era with John Stuart Mill raising the issue of women’s suffrage in the House of Commons in 1867 has evolved in the intervening years, but it still goes on. There are groups and activists today who campaign for more women in business, in politics, in sport, in boardrooms etc, and there is still a long way to go.
So, to finish, what happened one hundred years ago today in the UK was a turning point, a marker post, a landmark in women’s history, and I appreciate what those women Suffragettes and Suffragists put themselves through in order to get the ball rolling for us who have come after them. I think we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to not only keep that ball rolling, but to knock it out of the park completely and to keep striving for equality among ALL people regardless of age, gender, sex, race, creed, income, privilege, nationality, education, or any of the other labels that we insist on putting on ourselves to set ourselves apart from each other.
The beautiful words of Psalm 103 have helped me today. They reminded me that yes, there are things wrong in my life and there are things I want to fix, heal, mend and restore, but I can’t do it on my own.
1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Praise him indeed, for it’s only in God’s hands that life becomes life.
You know how every now and again coincidences just happen, like when you’re indicating to turn a corner and your blinker synchronises with the car in front of you? Or, that when you’re watching TV and having a conversation with someone in the room and you suddenly realise that you have said the same word as someone on TV at the exact same time?
Well, there are coincidences and then there are ironies.
Such as like tonight. Stuck in traffic on a particular stretch of the motorway at 6.30pm and then stuck in the SAME stretch of motorway on the return journey at about 10.30pm. Not a pleasant coincidence, but made funnier by the irony that I was listening to Meat Loaf (can’t beat a good rock out on the way down the M6 at night) and then this came on.
Ironic huh? “All revved up and no place to go” booming out whilst sat in four lanes of solid traffic with engines off because of an accident up ahead.
Have I mentioned I hate driving on the motorway at night recently? I’m sure I have…just once or thrice. It’s all because of the plan to convert the motorway network around Greater Manchester from a good-enough-but-would-be-great-if-it-were-better system to what they laughingly call a “Smart” motorway network.
It’s where the hard shoulder becomes a normal driving lane at peak times with a variable speed limit announced on gantries every half mile or so. Sounds smart enough, but the process has taken nearly 4 years so far, with frustrating traffic jams EVERY DAY, a mandatory 50mph speed limit, road closures, (lack of workmen working whilst said roads are closed), removal of lighting and junction signage pretty much all the way of the M60 between the M62 and the Trafford Centre, potholes that you could go fishing in and enough cones to stretch from Manchester to Mars and back – twice. There are hard barriers along the central reservation and the left hand edge of the carriageway and there are no hard shoulders any more, meaning when cars break down (or just overheat because of travelling in first gear for 20 miles), they have to pull up in the left hand driving lane (no shoulder or verge remember) and cause yet more tailbacks and more misery for the cars behind who have to either swerve to avoid them, or who slow down to see who’s hit who and if there is any blood anywhere.
Now, calling this new system “smart”, well, that’s ironic isn’t it?!!