It's not fair!
Explores the idea of fairness in relation to achieving votes for women.
by Gordon Lamont
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To explore the idea of fairness in relation to achieving votes for women.
Preparation and materials
- This assembly can be used at any time, but is particularly useful during school council elections and Parliament Week, which takes place in November each year (15–21 in 2013), when the role of democracy in our national life is celebrated (see www.parliamentweek.org for more information).
- Parliament Week is an annual national programme of events and activities that take place across the UK to connect engage and inspire people with UK parliamentary democracy. It is run by the House of Commons with support from the House of Lords. To find out more visit www.parliamentweek.org/
- This year Parliament Week is focusing on Women in Democracy and celebrating the contribution that women have made to UK democratic life and how women’s voices can be better heard.
- There is a growing number of Parliament Week resources for schools, with new materials being added as the event approaches, including new debating resources and audio slideshow stories exploring the subject of votes for women (check for the latest updates at: www.parliamentweek.org/schools).
- Parliament’s Education Service has produced a Key Stage 2 lesson plan that compliments this assembly, at: www.parliament.uk/documents/education/docs/suffragettes/ks2/suffragettes-ks2-lesson-plan.pdf
- Ask the children some simple open questions to which most will be able to respond. Ask them to put their hands up and wait to be selected to answer. Questions might include:
- What is your favourite food?
- What is the best games console?
- Which sports do you most like playing?
- What is the best school subject?
- What is your favourite book?
The important point is that you should only select boys to answer.
- Ask if anyone has noticed anything unusual about this question and answer session. If necessary, prompt the children by saying, ‘It’s something to do with who I’m asking to answer’. To help make the point, continue to ask only the boys to answer this question.
- Admit that you have only been asking the boys and ask for a show of hands to the question, ‘Who thinks that I should also take answers from the girls?’ Make it clear that this time you will take all the responses, not just the boys’!
- Ask if anyone can suggest why the girls should be included in answering questions. Take and value all the children’s responses, this time including those from the girls, too, and draw out the idea of fairness, that there was no reason to exclude the girls. Ask some of the girls what they thought and felt about not being asked. You could also ask the boys for their thoughts. You might choose to point out that for these questions there’s a reason for asking only boys or girls!
- Ask if anyone has heard the word ‘Suffragette’ and can explain what it means. Value all responses and explain that ‘suffrage’ is an old word meaning ‘having the right to vote’. Explain that, for a long time, women were not allowed to vote in elections, but, in the early twentieth century, many women, and some men, began to demand equal rights for women. A newspaper called them ‘suffragettes’. They began protesting around the country and were imprisoned, force fed, spat on and worse, just because they wanted to be acknowledged as equal to men. They eventually won the right to vote in 1918 – but only for women over the age of 30! It wasn’t until 1928 that women were allowed to vote on the same terms as men.
Time for reflection
Imagine that only girls or only boys were allowed to answer questions, all day, every day . . . what would that feel like?
Can you imagine how the suffragettes felt, being expected to obey the law but having no say in who governed them and made those laws?
Many suffragettes suffered terribly because they wanted the same rights as men –some even died in the struggle to gain the vote for women. Think about their lives and struggle for a few moments.
Will you use your vote when you are older? Are there things you can vote for already, such as school council elections?