Page last updated at 23:30 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 00:30 UK

Women's fight for vote celebrated

girl with bagpipes
Stories including that of Bessie Watson have been re-told in the exhibition

A new exhibition commemorating the Suffragettes' fight in Scotland to win women the vote is opening.

The work, at the museum of Edinburgh, marks 100 years since a march in the Scottish capital to boost their cause.

It uses images and eye-witness accounts to tell the story of the Suffragettes' struggle, which went on until 1928, when women were awarded the vote.

Edinburgh will also stage a re-enactment of the famous march, on 10 October, to mark its centenary.

The Suffragettes - officially known as the Women's Social and Political Union - spearheaded the fight to allow women to vote, despite the resistance - and outright hostility - of most of the male political establishment.

In Edinburgh, the fight went on for more than 60 years - right from the movement's early beginnings in the 1860s.

I feel enormous admiration for these brave women
Deidre Brock
Edinburgh City Council

At the height of the campaign, hundreds of women, children and men took up banners and flags and joined the Scottish Women's Suffragette procession on Edinburgh's Princes Street, with hundreds more cheering them on.

Helen Clark, curator of the Votes for Women exhibition, said: "Women couldn't own property, they couldn't hold public positions and they couldn't get the vote.

"Men could stand up and heckle a public meeting, but if women did it, they were physically thrown out in the street."

The exhibition tells the real-life stories of those who campaigned for the vote, including Bessie Watson, a nine-year-old girl who played the bagpipes as part of the 1909 march, and Ethel Moorhead, who was imprisoned in Calton Jail and force-fed.

Edinburgh City Council's culture leader Deidre Brock said: "I feel enormous admiration for these brave women - at that time they were regarded as freakish and unnatural, and they withstood huge pressures from their family, from politics and from society in general.

"This fascinating and informative exhibition will bring to life their struggle for equality, reminding us all of the sacrifices made on our behalf."

The exhibition runs until 9 January 2010.



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