Mass celebrations planned in Edinburgh’s streets to commemorate votes for women

1909 Suffragettes  march down Princes Street.
1909 Suffragettes march down Princes Street.
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The City of Edinburgh Council has passed a Motion in support of commemorations taking place next month to mark the centenary of the first votes for women.

At a meeting of the Full Council members unanimously agreed to the temporary closure of East Princes Street to traffic on the afternoon of Sunday 10 June, when thousands of women and girls will take part in a mass procession through the Scottish Capital as part of Processions 2018.

Thousands parade from Bruntsfield Links to Calton Hill to mark the centenary of the Suffragettes Edinburgh march demanding the right to vote in 1909.

Thousands parade from Bruntsfield Links to Calton Hill to mark the centenary of the Suffragettes Edinburgh march demanding the right to vote in 1909.

The move will allow those taking part to follow in the same footsteps as Scottish suffragettes, who famously marched along Princes Street in 1909 during a demonstration arranged by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU).

Participants will be able to walk together wearing one of the suffragette colours - green, white or violet - and carry handmade banners in a parade featuring the East End of Princes Street, between the Mound and North Bridge, as part of the full route which will announced by event organisers.

READ MORE: Edinburgh’s Suffragette history examined at new exhibition

Commenting, the Lord Provost said: “The closure of Princes Street is a major decision and one the Council does not propose often. As a major tram and bus route, and centre for retail and business, normal policy would be to avoid halting traffic as much as possible.

“But Processions will be no ordinary day. This is going to be a unique historic occasion where thousands of women and girls from all backgrounds and parts of the country can walk together, not only in remembrance of Scotland’s suffragettes, but in unity for further gender equality.

“I felt it was important to allow the route to take in the original street Scottish women marched along 100 years ago and I am delighted to receive the backing of the rest of the Council today.”

Registrations can be made in advance at www.processions.co.uk while the Council’s Museum of Edinburgh will celebrate the contribution of Edinburgh’s women to the suffrage movement and stage banner-making workshops as part of an exhibition ‘Their work is not forgotten’, 8 June - 14 October.

READ MORE: 100 years on: Celebrating Edinburgh’s suffragettes

Councillor Amy McNeese Mechan, Vice Culture and Communities Convener, will be participating in the event. She added: “On 10 June, thousands of women and girls will unite in Edinburgh to process, carry banners and fly the flag for women’s rights. Together, we will commemorate the incredible perseverance and bravery of those women who fought for the right to vote and marched through the city’s streets.

“It will feel all the more poignant to walk along the same street Scotland’s suffragettes marched down over 100 years ago. We want this to be the type of event people look back on with pride in the future and say, ‘I was there’.”

Helen Marriage, Artistic Director and CEO of Artichoke, said: “We are delighted with the Council’s decision to close Princes Street on 10 June. We want Processions to be the largest mass participation artwork made up of women ever seen in the UK, walking together in the green, violet and white wraps we’ll distribute. It will be a moment to celebrate what has been achieved for women as well as recognise how far there is still to go. We hope that women and girls from all over Scotland will join us to celebrate the memory of all the incredibly brave women who marched through the city’s streets 100 years ago.”

Full details of the route in Edinburgh, and in fellow participating cities Belfast, Cardiff and London, are expected to be revealed by event organisers Artichoke later this month.

Registrations can be made in advance at www.processions.co.uk while the Council’s Museum of Edinburgh will celebrate the contribution of Edinburgh’s women to the suffrage movement and stage banner-making workshops as part of an exhibition ‘Their work is not forgotten’, 8 June - 14 October.