Blog, Event, Politics, Women's History



WWAFE 2018 House of Commons seminar series – 100 years of (some) women’s suffrage


How did we get there, what have we done since & what does it mean today – A seminar series on women’s rights, challenges, perspectives, hopes and empowerment

Fiona Onasanya, MP, WWAFE Patron, chairs our 2018 series: 100 Years of (Some) Women’s Suffrage. Chair Dr Jocelynne A. Scutt, Cttee Members Ahlam Akram, Kim Bacchus, Anita Maxatazo and Dr Robin Joyce continue WWAFE founder Elizabeth Sidney’s work and thank Baroness Joyce Gould for her magnificent patronage and chairing of WWAFE House of Lords seminars from 2011 to 2017 – a wonderful innings.  


Fiona Onasanya, MP, WAAFE Patron

Dr Jocelynne Scutt, Chair WAAFE


We have the right to VOTE! We’re way past 4 February 1918 when all men of 21 years gained the right to vote in United Kingdom parliamentary elections, whilst the vote for women was limited to women of 30 years with property, a husband with property, or a university degree. Now at 18 years, we – like men of 18 and above – have voting rights. Yet still, when it comes to Parliamentary and local government representation – women are not equal! Why, and how do we gain equal representative rights?

When Hillary Clinton won the poplar presidential vote, yet did not enter the White House, many of us were devastated. Israel, India and Sri Lanka all had women leaders decades before, and in Britain we have had two women Prime Ministers – although never one from Labour. Australia has had a woman Prime Minister, women Premiers and women Chief Ministers – apart from one Chief Minister, all Labor, none from the conservatives. Aotearoa/New Zealand has had three women as Prime Minister – two Labour, one conservative. Canada has had one (conservative) female Prime Minister and four Premiers of various political hues. Good on them, yet why so few?

WWAFE’s 2018 seminar series focuses on women and women’s role in politics, recognising that the personal is political, too. What of women’s performance at the ballot box, in parliamentary and local government roles, in trades and professions and in life itself. Women have achieved great gains against great odds, and continue to do so – yet why the barriers? How do we surmount them?

This seminar series explores these issues through words and vision of women of backgrounds diverse and distinct, yet with the commonality women living in the world – and demanding the world accommodate women of strength, of vision, of humility and laughter. We are where we are today because of the work and courage of the women of the past. We stand here today as inheritors of their strength, their vision, their humility and their capacity to enjoy.

Thursday 28 June – Cttee Rm 6 House of Commons

‘Challenging the Barriers, Directing Our Vision – Women’s Voices, Women’s Lives, Women’s Reality’

Place: Committee Room 6, 5.30pm for 6.00pm to 8.00pm House of Commons – Patron Fiona Onasanya, MP

[We will begin promptly, so arrival at 5.30pm will ensure you gain a seat.]

Please register (providing name and address for House of Commons security purposes only) with Anita Maxatazo on


Dr Anke Husmann – a physicist studying quantum behaviour in Cambridge via Germany and Edinburgh, Chicago, Finland and Oxford

Tina Heidari – a Canadian law graduate and co-founder of Bona Fide Law Ltd, who aims to empower women in achieving lofty goals

Shrooq Alqahtani – a Human Rights Activist and Saudi dissident, with a ‘just completed’ dissertation on Arab women’s agency

Shoshana Mitchell



Dr Anke Husmann from the University of Cambridge is a physicist currently studying quantum behaviour to improve energy harvesting. Her journey began in Germany where she studied physics and philosophy of science with a year in Edinburgh. She pursued a PhD at the University of Chicago, moved to Finland, then Oxford and back to Chicago to find a place to settle, which eventually happened with the offer of employment at a research laboratory in Cambridge, UI. Caring responsibilities for two children – one with special needs – took most of her energy: she therefore took on a part time teaching position at the Open University, during that time completing a degree in psychology. Realising how much she missed research, she applied for a fellowship for returners though the Daphne Jackson Trust and is now back working in science on short term contracts. She is currently at another crossroad: while preparing applications to receive further funding she is also re-training as a data scientist.


A Canadian law graduate from the University of Buckingham, Tina Heidari aims to help empower women to achieve lofty goals in law. She created an online platform for women of diverse backgrounds, most of which are the first in their family to receive a college degree to write about legal issues. Her position as advocacy officer for the university’s law society motivated her to become the co-founder of Bona Fide Law Ltd, an organization that seeks to create opportunities for law students to gain experience and participate in conferences.  She is also the founder of a website that provides resources such as notes and exam structures for law students. Her current project is to host an event for law students to assist victims of domestic violence. Tina hopes to promote women’s rights in the legal arena and make a positive change in countries where the law has been fundamental to women subordination.


Shrooq Alqahtani is an LLF (finalist) at the University of Buckingham, a Human Rights Activist, and a Saudi dissident. As a member of the Arabian Peninsula Liberation Movement (APLM), she is active in the mission of the organisation which aims to raise awareness of Human Rights in the Arabian Peninsula and call for political and governance reforms. Her dissertation on women’s agency in the Arab world, entitled Arab Women and Agency: Between Western Denial, Oppressive Regimes and The Thabool (Drums) of Thawra (Revolution)’, focusses on some of the issues faced by Arab women in pursuing and seeking the protection of their human rights where they face double oppression within society.



Photos: House of Commons, Bing Photographs; Fiona Onasanya, House of Commons: Jocelynne Scutt, Robin Joyce

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