It’s depressing how relevant this book is today. Louise Kay Stewart and her illustrator Eve Lloyd Knight can’t have known this when they started on their Rebel Voices, a book about women’s right to vote. They refer to the 2016 US presidential race, but we’ve fast moved in the wrong direction since then. And no one could have guessed the #metoo movement.
In pictorial form the two show how the women’s suffrage movement was first successful in New Zealand in 1893, finally making it to Saudi Arabia in 2015.
As a child I took for granted that we were equal and that everyone should have the right to vote. I knew that it hadn’t happened simultaneously for the sexes, but somehow back then the first couple of decades seemed long enough ago that I felt it was all right. I didn’t know that Evita Perón had to fight for the vote, and that despite her powerful position, Argentina only got there shortly before her death.
I was 15 when Swiss women finally could vote! Before Jordan, but after Yemen. Now I find myself living through this late Swiss start and its effect on life today. It can’t be a coincidence that women still fare badly in Switzerland. Many of the men who happily discriminate today, began life in a country where women had to ‘charm’ men into doing what was needed.
The early successes in the fight for equality make for inspiring reading. It’s only knowing how the fight is not yet over which makes me sad and furious.
‘Every time a modern woman votes – whatever and wherever the election – she has her suffragist sisters to thank.’ Yes. And every time a woman ‘forgets’ to vote..? Because it’s ‘not going to make a difference.’
(Out today. Please teach your young ones about voting.)