Suffragettes and Women’s Vote: a project inspired by Princess Sophia Duleep Singh

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh selling copies of the 'The Suffragette'

Essex Cultural Diversity Project have been successful in obtaining a grant of £60,000 from the Women’s Vote Centenary Grant Scheme through Government Equalities office.

Our project will focus on the life and achievements of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, who was a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union. She campaigned for votes for women nationally and she was often seen selling the newspaper The Suffragette outside Hampton Court Palace.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh: 100 years of Votes For Women from Essex Cultural Diversity Project on Vimeo.

On 18 November 1910, known as Black Friday, she led a 400-strong demonstration to Parliament together with Mrs Pankhurst. As clashes broke out between the police and protestors, over 150 women were physically assaulted. Sophia also belonged to the Women’s Tax Resistance League, whose slogan was ‘No Vote, No Tax’. Her refusal to pay tax led to her prosecution several times and some of her valuable possessions were impounded. Her story has been recently been highlighted nationally and the Royal Mail have issued a stamp featuring Sophia Duleep Singh to mark 100 years since the Representation of the People Act.

Essex Cultural diversity Project will host a series of events for diverse and non-diverse communities, especially the Pakistani Muslim & Indian Sikh Communities across East of England, about the achievements of Sophia Duleep Singh. This is an inspirational and largely unknown story even amongst Sikh and Muslim communities in the region and our activities will demonstrate how important a key BAME female figure was in changing democracy for good in the UK.

The events and talks will seek to discuss issues today regarding BAME women’s engagement in the democratic process, with reference to Sophia and other inspirational figures. We aim to encourage women from these communities to engage more in the political arena shaping UK politics today as very few Asian women have participated in British politics over the years (particularly poor representation of second and third generations).

The theme of the project will really help in engaging these groups, focusing on UK democracy and participation. ECDP are keen increase awareness of the story of Sophia we hope to educate, celebrate her achievements and be a figure head role model and inspiration.