Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Emily Wilding Davison 1872 - 1913

Much has been written and filmed about the demise of Emily Wilding Davison but what happened at Epsom Downs on Saturday June 5th 1913 will remain mere supposition, as we have no record of what Emily was trying to do, or why. Was she planning on dying? Did she care if she did? Was she trying to bring the horse down or pin a suffragette scarf to its neck?

The majority opinion is now that Emily was not trying to kill herself - she was brought down by racehorse galloping at 35mph - although even attempting to curtail a horse at that speed is pretty suicidal. It was a tragedy, whichever way you look at it, and unfortunately did little for women's suffrage - other than possibly expounding the myth that all suffragettes were loons.

Emily is an enigma: Why would someone with the inspired and quite brilliant idea of spending the night of the 1911 census hiding in a broom closet in the Palace of Westminster, end up broken and dying on a race course two years later?

Emily was born on the 11 October 1872 and studied at Royal Holloway College before earning enough as a governess and teacher to study Biology, Chemistry, English Language and Literature at St Hugh's College, Oxford. Women were not allowed to take degrees at the time but she still received first-class honours in her finals.

In 1906 Emily joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), which had been formed by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903. These were the militant suffragettes - a different group from the more peaceful suffragists.

She quickly gained a reputation as a  violent campaigner and without WSPU approval, Emily went from disrupting meetings to stone throwing and arson.
In 1909, she was sentenced to a month's hard labour in Strangeways Prison in Manchester after throwing rocks at the carriage of chancellor David Lloyd George. She attempted to starve herself, and resisted force-feeding. A prison guard, angered by Davison's blockading herself in her cell, forced a hose into the room and nearly filled it with water. Eventually, however, the door was broken down, and she was freed. She subsequently sued the wardens of Strangeways, and was awarded 40 shillings. (BBC History)
In June 1912, near the end of a six-month sentence in Holloway Prison for arson, she reacted to an episode when she and dozens of fellow Suffragettes were force-fed by throwing herself down a 10 metre iron staircase. Her intention, as she wrote afterwards, was to stop the suffering of everyone else by carrying out this action. As a result she suffered severe head and spinal damage, causing discomfort for the rest of her life. (Higher Magazine, Royal Holloway College, Issue 15, 2011 pp18-19)

To know what she had gone through in just a few years - plus the ever-increasing hopelessness that some suffragettes believed of their cause - one is able to sympathise with her state of mind when the King's horse, Anmar, raced around Tattenham Corner. It may have been suicidal but when someone has so much passion for a cause, so much hatred for the unwavering "establishment", anger at being tortured and hopelessness that anything will change, a publicity stunt to shadow all others may be all that was left.

As for suffrage, did Emily's death from her injuries on the 8th June 1913 do anything for the cause? It's doubtful. What did more was the tragic circumstances of the Great War, when women took the place of the men in factories, offices and farms, showing themselves to be perfectly competent to vote and showing the anti-suffrage movement that women had a place in deciding the future of this country.
Only 39% of women aged 18-24 voted in the 2010 General Election - and only 20% of  minority women in the same age bracket. (Ipsos Mori)
When we see news footage of women being killed in Afghanistan, Sudan, etc. for exercising their right to vote, we should remember every woman who has ever died for freedom and democracy and use that right at every chance we have.

Today, the 5th June 2013, we remember Emily.

Niki Molnar, Chairman, CWO

Sunday, January 06, 2013

EVENT: CWO Evening with Maria Miller MP

Monday February 11th

An Evening with Maria Miller MP 
You are cordially invited to an evening with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport
and Minister for Women and Equalities, with kind permission of Alison Frost in support of the CWO.

The venue is in Holborn, London with full details to be disclosed later.

Advance booking essential. Places are limited

Tickets £40. Book online at:

Friday, December 21, 2012

Real men don't rape

A lead article in The Times today (21.12.12) discusses the issue of rape in India.  A country that is growing in leaps and bounds on other fronts; business, technology, politics, still has an estimated rape count of one every 22 minutes.  Yes you did read that correctly. In India rape is considered normal, allowable, and something men need to do.  They will blame women for western dress, being out after dark, or having an interesting background - almost any excuse they can come up with. 

Last week we were training women in Tunisia - helping to get the country into the new world of democracy.  Rape came up several times during our workshops.  The solutions ranged from 'get everyone married' to having women only groups to support each other and discuss the issue.  No.  Absolutely not.  Rape is not about what women do, wear or talk about.  Rape is about men.  Its about misogyny.  Its about control. Real men can control themselves, real men respect women.  Real men don't rape and we need to shout this loudly at every opportunity, and ensure that here in the UK, and around the world that everyone makes a stand against this issue, and to stop considering rape to be something that is the fault of women.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP for the East of England, is urging women to check their car insurance policies and to consider renewing policies before a new EU ruling comes into effect on the 21st December. According to industry estimates younger women drivers in particular could see an escalation in their insurance premiums.

The ruling in the European Court of Justice means that car insurance companies are no longer able to take gender into account as a key consideration when deciding on a person's car insurance premium. This means that in spite of research showing that younger women drivers have fewer accidents than their male counterparts, this will be ignored when calculating insurance premiums from now on. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), women drivers could see their premiums rise by up to 25% after December as a result, with younger women being particularly hard hit.

Mrs Ford commented: "This rise is expected to hit up to three quarters of all female drivers and I would encourage younger women in particular to check their car insurance renewal dates, and to consider renewing policies before the law comes into effect on the 21st December. As younger women tend to have few accidents than younger male drivers, to date insurers have been able to offer the women lower pricing, reflecting the lower risk. Now insurers will not be able to offer this differentiated policy. There appears to be a general consensus that car insurance prices for certain women drivers will rise significantly as a result. I am concerned that people are not aware that this cut off date is imminent. I don't think the ruling is sensible, it throws into question the whole theory of insurance pricing which tries to match premiums to expected risks. I would be interested in hearing from readers with any feedback on whether the price of insurance premiums have indeed risen and how this ruling has affected them. Check your policy before Christmas."


For further information, photographs or quotes please contact Sarah Stamp, Press and Communications Officer to Vicky Ford MEP, on 07584 028671 or at

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

CWO are supporting International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November.  Join us on Twitter and Facebook #endviolenceagainstwomen  @UNWOMENUK  @cwowomen    

This week in Parliament

Oral Questions to the Minister for Women & Equalities Thursday 22nd November at 1015am.  Watch live on

Thursday, November 01, 2012

CWO Action Day in Corby, 10th November

On Saturday 10th November CWO members will be going up to Corby and East Northamptonshire to support our candidate Christine Emmett. Our help is really needed to knock on more doors, deliver more leaflets and campaign more effectively than the opposition.

If you are coming from London there are direct trains from St Pancras to Corby which take 1 hour and 10mins.

Please meet us at the Campaign Centre at 10am which is a short walk from the railway station. The address for the campaign centre is: Corby campaign office, Exchange Court, Central business park, Cottingham Road, Corby, NN17 1TY.

If you are able to join us in Corby next saturday please email  

Best wishes,

Theodora Clarke (CWO Head of Communications)

Future dates for your diary:

Wednesday 14th November-  PCC & Corby telephone canvassing at CCHQ
Tuesday 4th December- Christmas drinks party in Westminster

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Members of the Conservative Womens Organisation led a meeting of women activists and politicians in Westminster this week with the Global Justice Centre team from the US, to discuss the way in which US law in particular defines gender equality rights very narrowly, including the exclusion of abortion laws from equality scrutiny.

This has a major effect on the treatment of women raped during conflict, and we are have formulated a plan to encourage our Government to add their voice to enforce international humanitarian law and making Security Council Resolutions, such as those that address gender parity in peacekeeping and rape as a weapon of war, legally enforceable rights. Want to know more? Contact us, and take a look at the GJC website