Ansar Ahmed Ullah:
The Swadhinata Trust celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March at the Whitechapel Idea Store, Whitechapel. Julie Begum, Chair of Swadhinata Trust gave a talk and presentation titled ‘Indian Suffragettes’ covering the contribution of women of South Asian origin.
She said, ‘Although popular Suffragette legend might have you believing only white women were entrenched in the cause for women’s suffrage in Britain, there were a number of Indian suffragettes and suffragists who took part.’
Julie mentioned a number of Asian suffragettes including Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, daughter of the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire and goddaughter of Queen Victoria, who helped lead marches and played up to her perceived ‘exoticness’ in order to bring much-needed attention to the movement.
As part of International Women’s Week, Julie also shed light on other Indian women, including Bengali Sarojini Naidu, fighting for suffrage in the 1900s to 1910s.
The event was supported by Tower Hamlets Council and attended by Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs.