Celebrating Coventry suffragette hero Gladys Stringer as the city prepares a new celebration of women’s rights to continue a strong legacy

“Gladys Stringer was a truly inspirational woman, her work to empower women was immensely difficult at a time of complete male domination.” – Rachel Lancaster, Labour Coventry City council Councillor. 

Amongst the one hundred year anniversary of women gaining the right to vote within the UK, we have decided to take a closer look at an extremely influential female that was heavily involved within the suffragette movement.

Recent discoveries from the Free Library have shown that Coventry was home to a crucial suffragette figure.

Gladys Stringer is not only an iconic woman that played a pivotal role in the suffragette movement in the early 20th century, but she was also a crucial part of Coventry history.

Stringer will always play a part in Coventry history, not just for her work revolving around bringing equal opportunities to women within the UK.

Coventry-born Alderman Sidney Stringer went on to become the mayor of Coventry in 1938 while married to suffragette Gladys Stringer. Gladys went on to fulfill the role as the Mayoress as Coventry despite her earlier involvement in the suffragette movement.

Stringer’s work certainly shaped UK society for the better and is now viewed by a majority as essential progressive protest. However, at the time many bodies and organizations operating within the establishment, monarchy and government in the UK would have frowned upon her behavior and views on equality and equal rights.

It is therefore remarkable that Stinger not only managed to mobilize and progress society with her work, but she also integrated herself within higher roles within UK government by becoming the Mayoress of Coventry.

Within her work with the suffragette movement, Stringer was a notable figure for her protests across the West Midlands.

She met and worked alongside Emmeline Pankhurst – one the most iconic and infamous suffragettes of the UK equality movement in the 20th century.

Further, Stringer held talks across Coventry in areas such as Pool Meadow, which is now a bus station used everyday by Coventry residents.

Stringer’s work towards gaining the vote and equal rights for women should always be recognised and commended. Further, her ability to resist norms and values expressed by the establishment, but to also then become a notable member of Coventry government shows that an individual’s principles need never be abandoned.

Every Coventry resident should be proud to be tracing the footsteps of Gladys Stringer for her brave and progressive work.

Rachel Lancaster is a Labour councillor for the Holbrook ward in Coventry and she, like many others, has paid tribute to the inspirational work carried out by Gladys Stringer in the early twentieth century.

“Gladys Stringer was a truly inspirational woman, her work to empower women was immensely difficult at a time of complete male domination. It’s because of women like her and The likes of Barbara Castle, Betty Boothroyd, Mo Mowlam and more recently Councillor Ann Lucas – the first female leader of Coventry City Council, that I’ve always felt inspired to support women to achieve.”

Lancaster went on to tell us that despite the amazing work carried out by local women within Coventry and beyond, there is still so much more to be done.

“It’s not to say that the fight for equality for women doesn’t still continue. Certainly we still don’t have enough women politicians and the glass ceiling is still there, but in the work that I do I do my best to encourage women to continue to strive for true equality.”

What events in Coventry are continuing the work started by Gladys Stringer?

“A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”

Coventry are set to continue the inspirational legacy set by Gladys Stringer next month as the city celebrates International Women’s Day with an event that will give a platform to stories from newly arrived women to the country.

The event will take place on Friday the 9th of March from 1pm to 2pm at the ST Peter’s centre and looks to encompass the iconic line that “A woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.”

The event will showcase refugee, asylum seekers and migrant women who will tell their inspirational stories to a keen audience.

International Women’s Day dates back to the early 1900s from when it was first recognised and is now celebrated globally every year on the 8th of March.

Marches, talks and performances occur all around the world during the week leading up to the iconic day and showcase the amazing work women have accomplished throughout history. This year’s celebration will have even greater meaning for people of the UK with it aligning with the 100 year anniversary of the historic suffragette movement.

CRMC are the organisation putting on the International Women’s Day celebration in Coventry that will feature stories from newly arrived women.

Reem Doukmark is the Community Participation Officer and a key event organiser for the celebration and spoke to us about the importance of the event.

“Our International Women’s Day event is all about bringing women together from different communities in a safe and welcoming space, so that they can make friends and learn about new cultures.

“This is all part of our wider aims as a charity, which is to support newly arrived people to rebuild their lives, supporting their integration into the city’s local communities and encouraging them to contribute fully to the life of Coventry; all while in safety and with dignity.”

For more details about the event you can click here. Further, Doukmark has encouraged anyone who wants to get involved to do so.

“We are still after a few female volunteers to support the event on Friday. If you know of anyone that would be interested in helping, please email info@covrefugee.org.”

Billy Hodder

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