International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day falls on Monday 8th March 2021 this year, and the theme is #ChooseToChallenge.

Historically, women were victims of a class system that permitted them limited rights and entitlements.

This subjected most of them to a life of domesticity and child raising.

It is now recognised that women became indoctrinated at an early age, to accept their fate and lot in life.

Many women were in fear of being thrown onto the streets, so they did not rebel.

Imposition of the class structure

A three-tiered class system used to exist in England, which carried through to the colonies.

Upper class – consisted of the aristocrats, land owners and wealthy merchants.

Middle class – catered for the professions, managers and tradesmen.

Working Class – consisted of land laborers (peasants), factory workers and other employed workers.  

Alongside this class system, was the Military, who had senior officers in the Upper class.

Mid ranking officers were in the middle class, whilst the soldiers were in the working class. 

Many women would fall into one of these bands. This could depend upon their social circumstances and who they married.

Women’s Suffrage

Women’s Rights

The latter part of the nineteenth century saw women start to campaign for their human rights. Unfortunately, the struggle for women’s rights remains an international concern, even to this very day. 

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all, who care about human rights.”

Gloria Steinem – world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist

Influence of the Victorian era

1835 to 1920 saw the first wave of feminism in England and the second occurred in the 1960’s.

Queen Victoria did not really help the cause of women as she was seen to represent the virtues of domesticity and family life.

Queen Victoria was dubbed as being the mother of the nation. She epitomized the virtues of domestic life and an English man’s castle being his home.


Pioneering women buried in Heene Cemetery

DOWAGER LADY CAROLINE HATHERTON 1809-1897 – Philanthropist

ELIZA GEORGIANA WOODS – 1843 – 1917 – Suffragist

ELIZABETH AGAR (1841-1926) – Deaconess of Mildmay Park

LOUISE JARVIS 1896-1926 – awarded British War & Victory medals

GRACE PUCKLE 1895-1927 – awarded British War & Victory medals

MARGARET EMMA HANDFORD 1868-1932 – awarded M.B.E.

ABIGAIL JONATHON 1877-1940 – Doctor

VIOLET ALCOCK (1878-1952) – awarded M.B.E.

International Women’s Day falls on Monday 8th March 2021 this year, and the theme is #ChooseToChallenge. 8 pioneering women showcase this International Women’s Day

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Sue Standing – Chairperson for Friends of Heene Cemetery