Vote for the Oak! European Tree of the Year

European Tree of the YearGlasgow’s Suffragette Oak was planted on 20 April 1918 to commemorate the granting of votes to (some) women. Last year, Glasgow Women’s Library nominated it as Scotland’s Tree of the Year and I know that some of you voted for it, for which many thanks. It won, and throughout February the Suffragette Oak is part of the European Tree of the Year competition. On Monday I and GWL colleagues Wendy and Beverly braved the wind, rain and mud to promote it while shivering in white dresses. The photo-call was also attended by the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Sadie Docherty. (A Provost is a Mayor, and a Lord Provost is always a Lord even when she’s actually a Lady.) I would be so grateful if you could reward our dedication by voting for us here!

A bit of background information about some Scottish Suffragettes:

  • Mary Hamilton – later a Labour MP (1929) and a lifelong campaigner for equal pay.
  • Marion Dunlop – held in Holloway, the first suffragette to go on hunger strike.
  • Dorothea Chalmers Smith – Doctor and minister’s wife who was imprisoned for house-breaking with intent to set fire. The church told her husband to control or divorce his wife. Dorothea left him and they divorced, after which she wasn’t allowed to see her sons.
  • Flora Drummond – aka The General, she led marches on horseback. She said the Suffragettes wanted “to make things intolerable so that [they] will say for heaven’s sake give the women what they want and let’s have peace.”
  • Jessie Stephen – domestic servant who carried out acid attacks on post boxes and was never caught, because nobody suspected a maid in uniform.
  • Helen Crawfurd – arrested for protecting Emmeline Pankhurst from police when she came to Glasgow’s St Andrew’s Halls. She was also part of the Rent Strikes movement and started the Women’s Peace Crusade after the First World War broke out.

Although some women got the vote in 1918, those over 30 who owned property, women couldn’t vote on the same terms as men until 1928. To put that in context, when my Mum was born in 1926 her mother, my Granny, was 27 and would not have been eligible to vote. That takes it out of history for me and makes it personal. Please thank the Suffragettes and *Vote for the Oak!

*The beautiful Vote for the Oak bunting was designed by artist Louise Kirby who has blogged here about how she created it.

 

31 Comments »

  1. Done! You’re right about how placing someone you knew in history makes it more real. My great gran was a formidable woman; the sort who’d be a politician these days. She wouldn’t have had the vote until 1928. This is one of those instances where we colonials were a little more enlightened!

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    • Thank you! The film Suffragette had a list at the end of when different countries gave women the vote. The U.K. wasn’t too bad but not one of the earliest as you say. A gasp went round the cinema when Switzerland came up. 1973!

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      • I haven’t seen Suffragette yet. Must try for this weekend. I did know that women couldn’t vote in Switzerland until 1970s, but I wasn’t sure if it was nationally, or if some cantons just held out. New Zealand was the first as we never tire of telling people. It hasn’t flowed through to equal pay or balanced representation — or even personal safety. We have one of the worst track records of domestic violence, and a prevailing culture that blames women for the violence perpetrated upon us and our children. Sigh! Hope the Suffragette Oak wins!

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  2. The bunting is indeed most fine and I did not know that about the vote only being for women over 30 so I have learned something new today. (I shall probably forget it tomorrow though). Hadn’t heard about the European Tree of the Year either so I shall go and investigate. I take it that this is a solo tree and not a species of tree?

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      • Have been to look. And you have my vote (well you deserve it getting all dressed up like that) 😀

        The pear tree is pretty good though and definitely needs rescuing from the HS2 – if only they’d scrap that and spend the money on improving the train services we already have (and reducing the cost). Oh, slight flaw, we’d have to nationalise the railways in order to achieve that.

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