Emmeline Pankhurst - The Namesake of the Emmy Backpack

Emmeline Pankhurst

Coinciding with International Women’s Day 2022, we are so excited to introduce you to our brand new release – the Emmy Backpack. Did you know that all of our recent bags are named after inspiring women? We're starting a new series on the VANCHI blog exploring the histories of the inspiring women who are the namesakes behind our bags.

Short for Emmeline, the namesake of our Emmy backpack is the courageous Emmeline Pankhurst. Born on July 15, 1858 Pankhurst was a British Suffragette that championed the cause of women’s voting rights in Great Britain.

In 1903, Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), an organisation with a simple moto - ‘votes for women’. The organisation met weekly at Pankhurst’s home and took on the colours white, green and purple as symbols of purity, hope and dignity. They were dubbed the ‘Suffragettes’ by the press, which was intended to be an insulting play on the word suffragist, however the women proudly embraced the term, and even called their newspaper Suffragette.

Known for their militant methods, to get their cause to be heard, the WSPU developed a tactic of heckling politicians during their speeches. This signalled the end of early suffrage societies which were typically polite, ladylike, letter-writing groups and made way for a new kind of activism.

The WSPU continued to grow and on June 26th 1908 an estimated 500,000 people gathered in Hyde Park for a WSPU demonstration. On March 4th 1912, hundreds of women including Pankhurst participated in a rock throwing, window smashing campaign through the commercial districts of London. Pankhurst was sentenced to nine months in prison for her involvement in the demonstration, one of several imprisonments over the course of her career.

As a by-product of the first world war, women found themselves carrying out jobs that were previously reserved only for men. This in turned helped change attitudes towards women and on February 16th 1918, parliament passed the Representation of the People Act which granted the vote to all women over the age of 30.

Pankhurst passed away on June 14th 1928 at the age of 69, only weeks before the vote was extended to all women over 21 years of age. In Pankhurst’s time, women were at the mercy of laws which favoured men – Pankhurst committed herself to securing the vote for women because she knew that their needs would never be met until they gained a voice in the law-making process.

Emmeline Pankhurst is considered one of the most influential women of the 20th century and is widely credited with bringing women’s issues to the forefront and helping women win the right to vote. We are incredibly grateful for the paths that this amazing women and the rest of the suffragettes paved for women today. 

If you have been inspired by the story of Emmeline Pankhurst and would like to learn more, we recommend the following resources: