Votes for women

Council’s champion for women celebrates recognition of suffrage campaigners

Swansea Labour councillor Louise Gibbard, the council’s champion for women, is delighted that two Swansea Bay women have been recognised nationally as pioneers for women’s suffrage.

The two – Emily Phipps and Winifred Coombe Tennant – were recognised on the centenary of Royal Assent for an Act of Parliament which began the process of granting equal voting rights to women and men.

The Women’s Local Government Society has published a list of 45 suffrage pioneers including Emily Phipps in Swansea and Winnifred Coombe Tennant in Neath.

“I am thrilled that two local women have made it into the list of top suffrage pioneers from this country,” Cllr Gibbard.

“This year provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate inspirational women like Emily Phipps and Winifred Coombe Tennant.”

Added Louise: “It also serves as a reminder to today’s citizens, both male and female, of the importance of participating in democracy.

“Across the country there is a ‘gender gap’ with fewer women than men voting in elections and female councillors are out-numbered three to one.

“The statistics are even worse for BAME, LGBTQ, disabled and working-class people. We owe it to the hard work of previous pioneers like Phipps and Tennant to keep up the pressure for progress.”

Emily Phipps, as head of the Swansea Municipal Secondary School for Girls, from 1895 onwards, was not only a transforming educator but the founder of the Swansea branch of Women’s Suffrage League in 1908.

Winifred Coombe Tennant was a leading campaigner for women’s suffrage in South Wales and became president of Neath Women’s Suffrage Society.

Both women stood for Parliament, Emily in 1918 for the constituency of Chelsea, and Winifred in 1922 for the Forest of Dean. Both lost to male candidates but retained their deposit.

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