Women honoured in Amnesty’s ‘Suffragette Spirit Map’

Women from Northern Ireland are among those being honoured on International Women’s Day by Amnesty International as it launches its “Suffragette Spirit Map”.

The interactive map of the UK celebrates the incredible work being carried out by women in their communities 100 years on from first winning the vote.

It highlights women across the country who “embody the continuing suffragette spirit” by defending human rights.

The three women highlighted in Northern Ireland are Elaine Roden of Newtonabbey, who works for Women’s Aid; trade unionist Breedagh Hughes of the Royal College of Midwives; and Heather Low.

Ms Roden supports children and young people affected by domestic violence enabling them to have their voices heard, and supports vulnerable young people as a counsellor.

Ms Hughes campaigns for improved employment conditions for Royal College of Midwives members in Northern Ireland and for women to have maternity care and reproductive healthcare choices and the right to live free from the threat of domestic violence.

Ms Low co-ordinates the only family planning counselling service in Northern Ireland which provides information and support on all pregnancy options, in spite of a difficult political climate which includes the constant picketing of their Belfast offices.

On seeing the map, Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, said: “As we celebrate International Women’s Day, there is no better time to launch this map and push these incredible women into the spotlight to be praised and recognised for their work.

“I imagine if the suffrage campaigners of old, including my great-grandmother Emmeline and grandmother Sylvia, could see Amnesty’s map, they would be extraordinarily moved. Because while together they helped set a precedent for women taking action, I doubt they would have known what their irrepressible drive and attitude would resonate 100 years later – and give visibility to women who are standing up and promoting human rights in such a varied and all-encompassing way.”