Using the vote

In the current political climate, the default answer of people when asked if they are political seems to be that they are generally bewildered or disillusioned with politics. When so many people seem disenfranchised by ongoing political soap operas, it can be hard to appreciate the importance of our right to vote.

Back in June we started working with a group of women who meet regularly at Saheli Hub’s Wednesday morning health and wellbeing sessions in Handsworth Park. We wanted to begin our project by asking some questions about their feelings about politics today and their attitudes towards voting.

What followed was a really stimulating discussion. It is clear that members of the group feel passionately about their communities and would like political leadership which reflects their own values and priorities.

We followed it up with a screening of ‘Fight for the Right’, a film produced by local Film Maker Sima Gonsai, focusing on the lengths that some women in Birmingham went to in order to further their aim to gain the right to vote. It’s a shocking account of the extreme actions that some women took – and was brought even closer to home by revealing that one Suffragette action involved an arson attack on the park’s Boat House.

Over the coming months we will be asking questions about democratic participation and representation through looking into the past to see how women a century ago engaged in electoral politics and political activism.