Pankhurst family in feminist march

Witney Gazette: Laura Pankhurst and her mother Dr Helen Pankhurst have led a procession of women's rights campaigners through London Laura Pankhurst and her mother Dr Helen Pankhurst have led a procession of women's rights campaigners through London

The great-great granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst followed in her ancestral footsteps today by leading a feminist march through London.

Laura Pankhurst,19, and her mother Dr Helen Pankhurst led a procession of around 400 Olympic Suffragettes and women's rights campaigners dressed in the suffragette colours of purple, green and white at an event for CARE International to mark International Women's Day today.

The walk was part of the charity's Walk In Her Shoes campaign which invites UK women to 'walk in the shoes' of women and girls across the world who must trek for many miles every day to collect water for their families.

Speaking on the issue, Laura, who is in her first year studying Law at Cambridge University, said: "It is so unnecessary because comparatively it is so easy to deal with it and then these girls can go to school, get educated and get out of the cycle of dependency.

They were joined on the procession by broadcaster Sandi Toksvig, leading feminists Caroline Criado-Perez, Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, and Lucy-Anne Holmes, campaigner for No More Page 3.

Speaking at the beginning of the march, International Development Secretary Justine Greening said the Prime Minister would be holding a summit on the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early enforced marriage later in the year.

Ms Greening described FGM and early enforced marriage as "symptoms of the challenge of women's rights".

"We are doing work to ensure that women do have a voice and a choice," she said.

Upon leaving the stage, the minister was heckled by one campaigner who shouted: "Stop government harassment of women."

The campaigners carried banners reading 'Deeds Not Words' and sang suffragette song The March Of The Women.

Dr Pankhurst, who is the granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, said the suffragette movement still resonated around the world

She said: "Today is an homage and that's why some of us are dressed up because the suffragette movement still resonates.

"People have come with different issues, such as Spanish abortions or food banks and helping women get off dependency in the UK.

"Walk In Her Shoes focuses on water and still today in the 21st century women have to go for miles and it is unacceptable that this kind of drudgery is still acceptable."

The 1.5-mile procession from London's Millbank ended at the the Southbank Centre where the Women of the World Festival is taking place.

Speaking at the festival was schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for campaigning for a girl's right to be educated.

She said: "Today is a day of celebration for women all around the world. We should take pride in all that we have accomplished over the years."

"We have come so far and overcome so much, and together we only grow stronger. While celebrating though, we must take a moment to reflect on all our sisters around the world who continue to struggle every day for their rights. We must not move on without them."

Speaking at the end of the walk, Emily Thornberry MP said that female representation in parliament remained one of the central parts of the feminist cause.

The Labour MP is campaigning for a statue of Emily Wilding Davidson, the suffragette who died after being trampled under the horse of King George V, to be erected in the Houses of Parliament.

She said: "There are only four women statues in Parliament and two of those are of Margaret Thatcher. Let's get proper representation of women in politics and start with the statue of Emily Wilding Davidson."

Caroline Criado-Perez, who received online abuse after campaigning for a woman to be on the UK's banknotes, said that the original suffragettes would be "disheartened" at the "regression" the feminist cause has undergone in modern Britain.

Ms Criado-Perez said: "It's been 100 years and we really haven't got that far, and in many ways have regressed in the past 20 years or so.

"When you talk to older feminists who were in university in the 80s, they talk about how 'lad culture' was not acceptable. The cool thing was to care about equality.

"It feels like there's been a huge backlash from men and from some women who have seen the backlash and are scared to put themselves forward now."

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