I was at a meeting today, with 2 other women and we were discussing and talking about people with Autism and how best to support them. During the conversation it inevitably came up, not only about their potential and abilities, but also their rights. ‘Rights’ are a thing many of us take for granted or indeed shout about, if we feel are being violated. We use our voice, we march, we demonstrate one way or another, usually without fear, to exercise our right to ‘freedom of speech’ and to get things done.
A person with an intellectual disability, often, may not have that voice to exercise their right to ‘freedom of speech’. Some may not even know or be aware of their rights, and therefore need someone to ‘stand up for them’ and be their voice. Again, we can do this without fear of repercussions. It may take a long fight to ultimately get whatever it is we are seeking for the ‘person’, and we may not get what we want for them at all, but we can try, and we can fight, and we can shout and be heard, even if it falls on deaf ears.
Today is the 100 year anniversary of the suffragettes victory in allowing women in Britain the right to vote. There were, however, conditions in that the women must be over the age of 30 to vote and well educated. Women were not however, treated equally to men and didn’t enjoy the same rights across the board. Thankfully, a lot has changed in that 100 years. We have more equal voting laws, we have better discriminatory laws. Here in Ireland, we were the first country, in the world, to legalise same sex marriage. We don’t send women and children to the work houses. Women, whether married or not can now work. Up until 1973 in Ireland, married women were not allowed to work! Children have more opportunities to go to third level education, regardless of social class or status. Yes we certainly have come a long way since Emmeline Pankhurst chained herself to the railings, seeking rights for women, or since Emily Davison, threw herself under the Kings horse for the cause. Emily was certainly dedicated to Pankhurst’s motto of ‘Deeds not Words’ and ultimately gave her life.
This is the the only thing that remains true, 100 years on and perhaps 1,000 years on is that motto, ‘Deeds not words’. The old adage of ‘Actions speak louder than words’, whether it is a friend in need or a person who does not or cannot use their voice, don’t we have a duty advocate and demonstrate on their behalf? By doing good deeds for the greater good, by standing by and standing up for our rights, for our fellow man, woman and child, we are honouring and continuing what those suffragettes started. Don’t we owe it to them, to ourselves and to those who cannot speak for themselves, the right to enjoy the same rights of their fellow human being? Like British rail, we have come along way, but still have a way to go.
I salute the bravery and tenacity of the suffragettes and I feel angry at what they had to suffer and endure in their world 100 years ago. I thank God that I didn’t live in that world. I shall raise a glass tonight to those women, for daring to do ‘deeds’ for all women so that they may enjoy, not just the right to vote, but for equal rights across the board. It is now our generation of women and men who must continue to do ‘deeds’ in order to fight for the rights of any person unable to fight for their own.
Let’s not forget vera twomey, our own ‘suffragette’ seeking the right for her child to receive medical cannabis to improve her quality of life. To make a difference, it starts with one voice…….. make your voice count.
Happy 100 year anniversary!