Suffragettes100: Upminster pupils talk feminism for women’s vote centenary

Coopers' Company and Coborn pupils Poppy Ellis, of Year 9, and games captain Phoebe Menear, of Year

Coopers' Company and Coborn pupils Poppy Ellis, of Year 9, and games captain Phoebe Menear, of Year 13. Picture: CCCS - Credit: Archant

Phoebe Menear is the Upminster school’s games captain, and she is well aware of the important role played by the suffragettes a century ago.

She said: “Feminism to me means equal rights for men and women, over time we have become more equal and that was largely down to the incredible women who fought for my right to vote.”

And for the Year 13 student, sports is perhaps one of the best indicators of how far society has come in the past 100 years.

She told the Recorder: “In the first ever Olympics only 22 women competed in the entire games!

“In the 2016 Olympics the Great Britain women’s hockey team became Olympic champions! As a young woman who plays a vast amount of sport there is nothing more empowering than seeing sportswomen succeed in what was, historically, a male dominated activityt.

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“It proves how women have come on leaps and bounds not only for the vote but in competitive sport.”

But Phoebe is still realistic about the issues facing young women today.

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“In 2018 women still struggle,” she said.

“Serena Williams is the highest paid sportswoman, but she is 51st on the list. In modern days these statistics are appalling.

“We still have a way to go as women in sport and as women of the world.”

And for Year 9 pupil Poppy Ellis, the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes” was the right place to start, but admitted that in real life it has many different interpretations.

“To me feminism means that both women and men are treated equally, in all aspects of everyday life,” she said. “Therefore women should have equal opportunities in education and employment and have a balanced pay to men.”

And to Poppy, feminism is a powerful tool helping both men and women break down gender stereotypes and young boys and girls’ own self-perceptions.

“Throughout the last decade, women’s rights have taken a huge leap from the position they were once in 100 years ago – from the 1940s where women were allowed to work in factories during World War II, to our second female prime minister in the 21st century.”

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