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BBC News: The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage

"The Struggle for Women's Suffrage." BBC News, June 7, 2016.

Era: Post-Suffrage Era, Suffrage Era | Media: Curated Photos/Ephemera, Television, Video, Web-based

This short BBC News video from 2016 introduces a sculpture, housed in the British Parliament, that celebrates women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom. The work, titled “New Dawn,” is made of metal and illuminated glass whose lighting ebbs and flows in time with the tides in the nearby River Thames. The video also uses archival footage and photographs to look back at the women’s rights movement in the UK.

“New Dawn” was unveiled on June 7, 2016. The date marked the 150th anniversary of Member of Parliament (and famous philosopher) John Stuart Mill’s presentation to the House of Commons of the first mass petition advocating women’s enfranchisement. An excerpt from the UK Parliament’s website describes the watershed event:

Mill spoke on the petition on 17 July 1866. A year later, the petition led to the first debate on votes for women. On 20 May 1867 Mill tried to amend the Second Reform Bill to replace the word ‘man’ with ‘person’. He later described this as ‘perhaps the only really important public service I performed in the capacity as a Member of Parliament.’ The division was lost by 73 votes to 196, but Mill was delighted by the level of support, which came from both sides of the House.

St. Stephen Hall, the portion of Westminster Hall chosen to house the sculpture, was a frequent rallying point from which suffragettes protested and lobbied Parliament for the vote. The piece was created by artist Mary Branson.

You can view and explore “New Dawn” here, watch five short videos about it here, and learn more about the sculpture’s creation here.

You can also explore another important contribution Mill made to the suffrage movement: his May 20, 1867 speech before the House of Commons on the subject of women’s enfranchisement.


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