Later this month, Rochdale celebrates one of the most important centenaries in British history – the Representation of the People Act 1918. This Act paved the way to all men and women over 21 gaining the right to vote 10 years later.
On Wednesday, 20 June 2018, Rochdale Town Hall stages the 'EqualiTeas' event to mark the milestone, with debate, music and cups of tea. Historically, tea parties were hotbeds of political activism and one of the few ways women could meet without men to discuss and plan.
EqualiTeas is part of a national programme of events to mark 2018's important milestones for democracy.
Guest speaker for the evening will be Edna Robinson, in conversation with multi-award-winning journalist and radio presenter Helen Nugent, discussing democracy and the power of people in the 21st century. Edna is Chairman of the People's Powerhouse, a movement which aims to bring about sustainable prosperity to communities in the north of England. Originally trained as a nurse and midwife, she is now Chairman of the Trafford Housing Trust, the Big Life Group, and a great advocate for people's rights.
There will be music from local ladies' choir, Cantare, singing The Pankhurst Anthem, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to mark the centenary. The piece features music by composer Lucy Pankhurst and text by Helen Pankhurst, based on words written by Emmeline, Helen's great-grandmother.
'An excellent opportunity to reach out to others and share our ideas for an even more equal society'
The evening will conclude with an evening tea, including cake and choice of tea or coffee – a nod to the leading suffrage organisations which used tea parties and tea shops as central elements in their campaigning, to increase awareness, discuss tactics and raise money.
Councillor Janet Emsley, our cabinet member for neighbourhoods, community and culture said the anniversary is an important opportunity to reflect:
"We know that there is still more to do when it comes to equality, and EqualiTeas is an excellent opportunity to reach out to others and share our ideas for an even more equal society, while celebrating the strides we have already made."