This Appeal is pledged to remember 18th November, the anniversary of ‘Black Friday’, the notorious day in 1910 when three hundred suffragettes were attacked outside Parliament as they tried to petition Prime Minister Asquith. Three women died as a result of the violence that day, the first of whom was Mary Clarke.
Another key commemorative date for us is the 25th November. This is the U.N.’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women which is part of the U.N. Secretary General’s ambitious campaign, entitled UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women. Launched in 2008, this is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world. We recall that Mary experienced abuse in her marriage as well as aggression and violence from political opponents.
This year we chose to mark it by asking the City Council to wear orange ribbons and hold a minute’s silence for local women whose lives have been lost to violence. The moving minute’s silence took place on 21st October, at a meeting of full Council, but discussion of an all party Notice of Motion on the subject had to be postponed until a meeting of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, co-incidentally scheduled for 25th November.
Our newest Child Ambassadors, sisters Sophie (9) and Lena (6) Goulden Mackerron (who happen to be Mary Clarke’s great great great nieces) represented us at that meeting by asking public questions. Due to COVID they did so remotely. However, before the meeting began, their fellow Child Ambassador River Isaac (8) attended in person, with her mother Paula, to hand Mary’s Lamp to Councillors Steph Powell and Martin Osborne, Co-chairs of the Committee. The lamp stayed at Steph Powell’s side while responded to public questions and during the debate.
Sophie addressed the Committee with the following challenge:
“We are child ambassadors for the Mary Clarke Statue Appeal. Mary was brave and gentle and died for women’s rights. Suffragettes at Mary’s funeral were told they should not be sad, but take up her torch and light the darkness. We are taking up Mary’s lamp to try to make things better. We know you are discussing violence against women later on. We want you to stop girls being bullied or treated disrespectfully, especially at school. Will you make sure that by the time we are grown up, this city will be a safe place for women to live?”
Lena then asked the following short supplementary question:
“We are pleased you stand up for women’s rights and support the statue for Mary. When you meet the police will you tell them what we have said – and ask them to also support Mary’s statue.”
We are so proud of all our Child Ambassadors.