This year has been the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, the law that first gave most women in the UK the right to vote. We’ve seen some amazing events to celebrate this achievement: statues in London and Manchester, and a number of exhibitions, articles and blogs. The activism of a few women one hundred years ago changed our democracy and the lives of women in ways that few could have imagined… but we’re lucky the suffragettes did imagine it.
The more I learn about the amazing things those women did a century ago, the more I realise that acting on your beliefs is more powerful than any of us would like to admit. It’s scary to think that you are just one courageous risk away from changing your world and the worlds of others.
And it’s not just about women: if suffrage has taught us anything, it’s that in 100 years everything and nothing can change. You will still encounter people who don’t think it was a big deal, and you will still find pockets of society where we still need someone to make a stand. The time to make a stand is when the fire is in your belly, not the day when you’ve eventually been given permission for your voice to be heard.
What can we all do every day to be the change we want to see? It could be to do with making all people welcome and valued in workplaces and in society at large, or just something that niggles at you that should be done better!
The suffragettes had a fantastic saying: “proceed until apprehended”.
We often hold back from taking action because we think it will break the mould – even if it doesn’t break any rules. It might be something as small as holding back from sending an unsolicited message on LinkedIn to someone you’d like to mentor you, or suggesting a way of doing something differently at work.
So as the year draws to a close, take a moment to think about three times you made a difference this year. And think about a couple where maybe you held back a bit, and might have done things differently. Try too to think about the things other have done that changed your life for the better (and say thank you!).
The blog will be back on 10 January. Have a whole hearted and kickass Christmas and see you in 2019.
Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.
Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
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