Sunday, 23 August 2015

Womanchester, oh the womanity!

Of all the public statues in Manchester, there's a metal tree, a horn, a stone, a bicycle, at least sixteen men, but only one woman, Queen Victoria. Can you believe that? In a city that brought the world the Pankhursts, the suffrage movement, allowed women to attend its University before any other higher education institution, the home to the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and just all round bodacious place to be?

Well, a campaign, WoManchester, is under way, lead by Councillor Andrew Simcock, to rectify this issue and raise the public money (up to £500,000) to fund a new statue to commemorate a late great lady of Manchester. The statue won't solve the inequalities between women and men in this city (or this country) and 1/2 million pounds later the balance between statues of men and those of women won't be rectified at all, but it's a step and a statement.

Simcock has just completed a bike ride from top to tail of Great Britain, from Land's End to John O'Groats in Scotland, to raise funds. You can donate to the cause here and the long list of potential subjects has been revealed, which you can view here

Each of the 20 women that make the long list were celebrated at 20 separate intervals of Simcock's bike ride, with a picture taken (some of which are below) to snapshot the moment.


The incredible Marie Stopes makes the list, Stopes wrote the controversial Married Love in 1918 which taught readers about the female orgasm and the need for women to enjoy their participation in (albeit heterosexual, married) sex. She also spoke about birth control and campaigned for women's rights on the subject. If you've not read Married Love, read it, it's amazing and also shocking how little we've moved on.

Of course, the Pankhursts also make the list with Emmeline, Sylvia and Chrisabel up for nomination, but also Enriqueta Rylands, who founded the John Rylands Library on Deansgate in her late husband's name. Although, interestingly, there is a statue of Enriqueta within the library, in the main reading room, starring across the magnificent room across to a statue of her husband, so perhaps she should let another amazing woman get the gig this time round?

The long list will soon become a short list and then it'll be up to the Mancunian public to decide. Who will you vote for?