GoTitleFree is passionate about using our blog to celebrate brilliant people who have paved the way for progress in the world of equality and inclusion, who’ve demanded change, or who have amplified the voices of others who did.
Today, we are celebrating Chelmsford born Anne Knight (1786 – 1862), whose experiences on this day (June 11th) in 1840 led to her publishing the first leaflet about women’s suffrage.
Speaking three languages, she had been touring Europe with some peers before attending the World Anti-Slavery Convention which happened to be taking place in London.
Wishing to speak, she, Elizabeth Pease, Amelia Opie, Lucretia Mott and others in her group were refused the platform.
They were told they could not participate on the grounds that they were female.
Outraged by the treatment and the exclusion, she began campaigning for women’s rights in a number of ways.
The leaflet published a few years later stated:
“Never will the nations of the earth be well governed,
until both sexes, as well as all parties, are fully represented”.
Her time living in France at a similar time in her life also involved campaigning and protesting against the barring of women from political groups, meetings and buildings.
Working with other women, she formed the Sheffield Female Political Association, which became the first British organisation to campaign for women’s suffrage following a ban on women from voting.
The quote in her leaflet in 1847 resonates with us so much, even a hundred and seventy five years later.
We know that only when authenticity, and true representation is enabled, can society truly be equal. only when each person is given equal rights and opportunities to the next, can we thrive together, and see a fairer world.
Anne Knight saw that because of her own censorship, she was preventing the voices and lived experiences of her gender being heard in the most important rooms, at times when policy was being written and created. She knew that those policies being created would affect the very people who were being censored, and did not want to ignore the injustice.
Her voice, and her followers gave confidence to all those who followed her.
Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison had the work and voices of all those suffragists and suffagettes before them, and it was their combined force which brought about the first big change with votes for some women being finally allowed by 1918.
GoTitleFree celebrate progressive voices and actions in history because it’s important to demonstrate that the fight for equitable freedom has been long and hard. We have achieved so much, but there is still so far to go.
Be a part of our collective voice and sign our petition by clicking here. It shows businesses that requests for marital status titles are unnecessary and sexist. Also that they don’t allow authenticity for non-binary people.
Further Reading: On This Day She: Putting Women Back Into History, One Day At A Time