Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU)

Women’s Social and Political Union

The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was a prominent and influential women’s suffrage organization in the United Kingdom, founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters. The WSPU played a significant role in the women’s suffrage movement, advocating for women’s right to vote using militant and direct action tactics.

Dates and Details:

  • The WSPU was founded on October 10, 1903, in Manchester, England, by Emmeline Pankhurst, her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, and a group of like-minded women.
  • The organization’s motto was “Deeds, not words,” reflecting its militant approach to achieving its goals.
  • The WSPU’s primary focus was securing women’s voting rights in the UK, and it targeted the ruling Liberal Party, which it viewed as the main obstacle to women’s suffrage.

WSPU Facts:

  1. The WSPU’s members were known as “suffragettes,” a term coined by the Daily Mail newspaper to distinguish them from the more moderate “suffragists.”
  2. The WSPU used militant tactics, including window smashing, arson, and hunger strikes, to draw attention to their cause and pressure the government.
  3. In 1908, the WSPU organized “Women’s Sunday,” a large-scale demonstration in London that attracted 300,000 to 500,000 people.
  4. The WSPU’s official colors were purple, white, and green, symbolizing dignity, purity, and hope, respectively.
  5. The organization had its own newspaper, “The Suffragette,” initially called “Votes for Women.”
  6. The Cat and Mouse Act of 1913 was specifically introduced to counter the WSPU’s hunger strike tactics by temporarily releasing hunger-striking prisoners and re-arresting them once they had recovered.

Effects on Pop Culture:

  • The WSPU and the suffragette movement inspired various works of art, literature, and film, such as the 2015 film “Suffragette,” which portrayed the lives of WSPU members.
  • The term “suffragette” became synonymous with the fight for women’s voting rights and is still used today to describe women who fought for this cause.
  • The suffragettes’ use of militant tactics sparked public debate about the role of women in society and the methods used to achieve social and political change.

Prominent People:

  • Emmeline Pankhurst, the founder of the WSPU, was a key figure in the women’s suffrage movement and is still celebrated as a feminist icon.
  • Christabel and Sylvia Pankhurst, Emmeline’s daughters, played significant roles in the WSPU and the broader suffrage movement.
  • A WSPU member, Emily Davison gained notoriety when she died after being struck by King George V’s horse during the 1913 Epsom Derby in a protest for women’s suffrage.

Countries Involved:

  • The WSPU was active primarily in the United Kingdom, although its influence extended to other countries with women’s suffrage movements, such as the United States and Australia.