They were some of history’s most famous leading ladies who fearlessly led the charge for women to have the right to vote. Now the Suffragettes will hit the big screen in Leeds this week as the city marks 100 years since their courage and determination saw them win one of their most decisive victories.
Millennium Square will be hosting a free screening of award winning film Suffragette on 9th August as part of a programme of events celebrating the first women in the UK getting the vote in 1918. Visitors are being encouraged to get into the spirit by wearing Suffragette fancy dress and purple and green clothes- the colours of the Suffrage movement.
Starring Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, and Helena Bonham Carter, the film takes place in 1912 and follows a young working mother inspired to take up the cause. The screening is free to attend, entry is on a first come, first served basis and visitors can bring their own picnics and blankets. The screening is rated 12A and doors open at 6pm, with the film starting at 7pm. Alcohol cannot be brought in from outside but alcohol and ice cream can be purchased on site.
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Leeds has a long and historic connection to the Suffrage movement, with some of the campaign’s most prominent and passionate figures coming from our city.
“These women were willing to put their freedom and their lives on the line in the pursuit of equality and it’s thanks to their determination and unshakable belief that we enjoy some of the freedoms we have today.
“It is also testament to the impact the Suffragettes had on our way of life that their story is still being reinvented and retold today and we are proud to be playing our part in that by celebrating this historic milestone with a free event at the heart of Leeds.”
Leeds was home to two women who became prominent activists in the Suffrage movement. The famously passionate, and Jewish, Leonora Cohen was jailed in 1911 after she threw a rock at the window of a government building and was imprisoned again in 1913 for hurling an iron bar through a showcase at the Tower of London in front of a crowd of startled schoolchildren.
In later life, Leonora was appointed OBE, living to the age of 105. She remained a force for women’s rights right up until her death in 1978. Leeds City Museum currently hosts a display dedicated to Leonora Cohen, including the iron bar she threw in the Tower of London.
Mary Gawthorpe left teaching in 1906 and became a paid organiser for the Women’s Social and Political Union in Leeds. A regular speaker at huge national events, including a 1908 rally in London’s Hyde Park in front of more than 200,000 people, she was also arrested and imprisoned a number of times for her activism, suffering harsh treatment both in and out of custody.
Visitors can also learn more about Suffragettes and other women who have blazed a trail through history at Abbey House Museum’s current A Woman’s Place? exhibition. For more information visit: www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/abbeyhouse/a-womans-place
For more details about the screening, visit: www.millsqleeds.com/whats-on.