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Princess Sophia: Suffragettes and Women’s Votes

On 18 November 1910, known as Black Friday, Sophia Duleep Singh led a 400-strong demonstration to Parliament together with Mrs Pankhurst. As clashes broke out between the police and protestors, over 150 women were physically assaulted. Sophia also belonged to the Women’s Tax Resistance League, whose slogan was ‘No Vote, No Tax’. Her refusal to pay tax led to her prosecution several times and some of her valuable possessions were impounded. Her story has been recently been highlighted nationally and the Royal Mail issued a stamp featuring Sophia Duleep Singh to mark 100 years since the Representation of the People Act.

For this project, Essex Cultural diversity Project hosted a series of events for diverse and non-diverse communities, especially South Asian communities across the East of England, about the achievements of Sophia Duleep Singh. This is an inspirational and largely unknown story even amongst communities in the region and our activities will demonstrate how important a key BAME female figure was in changing democracy for good in the UK.

The events and talks sought to discuss issues today regarding BAME women’s engagement in the democratic process, with reference to Sophia and other inspirational figures. We aimed to encourage women from these communities to engage more in the political arena shaping UK politics today as very few Asian women have participated in British politics over the years (particularly poor representation of second and third generations). ECDP are keen increase awareness of the story of Sophia we hope to educate, celebrate her achievements and be a figure head role model and inspiration.

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