women's social and political union

Edith Garrud was a tiny woman. Measuring 4ft 11in (150cm) in height she appeared no match for the officers of the Metropolitan Police - required to be at least 5ft 10in (178cm) tall at the time. But she had a secret weapon.

In the run-up to World War One, Garrud became a jiu-jitsu instructor to the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), better known as the suffragettes, taking part in an increasingly violent campaign for votes for women.

Sick of the lack of progress, they resorted to civil disobedience, marches and illegal activities including assault and arson.


Christabel Pankhurst by The National Archives UK

Images registered at Stationers’ Hall under the Copyright Acts in force from 1842 to 1912

Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, DBE, was a British suffragette born in Manchester, England. A co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, she directed its militant actions from exile in France from 1912 to 1913.

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Desai said she walked out after her son claimed unfair dismissal by the company and she had been told she had to work overtime. Her parting words to the manager were: “What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. In a zoo, there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr Manager.”

Suffragettes were members of women’s organization (right to vote) movements in the late 19th and early 20th century, particularly militants in Great Britain such as members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Suffragist is a more general term for members of suffrage movements, if radical or conservative, male or female. Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst (picture) used violent tactics in Britain as members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU)