On 10th October 2009, thousands of women, men, and children will be marching through Edinburgh in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Movement Procession along Princes Street.
In the weeks leading up to this exciting re-enactment there are events taking place across Scotland in honour of the Gude Cause. At Glasgow Women’s Library we have had two main activities: Banner Making and Singing for a Gude Cause, both of which I have had the great pleasure of attending.
Our One-Mile volunteer Loraine, who is also a talented craftswoman, ran a 3 week Banner Making course at the Library. Now as anyone who has ever been to a march (or seen pictures) will know, banners are an essential part of proceedings. A good banner can make a brilliant visual impact – if you can’t hear us, we will make sure that you can see us!
Loraine and her diverse team of interested and inspired women spent one session evaluating slogans; VOTE TODAY TO CHANGE TOMORROW was the consensus. 2 of our Chinese learners suggested a beautiful phrase in Mandarin to complement the English words, which translates roughly as WOMEN ARE THE STUFF OF HEROES. The image decided on was a conflation of the GWL logo with the iconic Votes for Women poster.
The next 2 weeks were spent thinking, printing, cutting, pinning, stitching, drawing, bonda-webbing, fabric painting, and rosette crafting. Loraine expertly delegated tasks so that regardless of skill or experience everyone was included – what had initially seemed like it might become chaos instead became carefree autumn afternoons. By the end, I felt as pleased with the team effort and shared sense of accomplishment, as with the banner itself!
Songs provide a different dimension to marches, utilising the rousing qualities of music to unite and uplift demonstrators, whilst simultaneously proclaiming the (gude) cause in question. The Singing for a Gude Cause sessions were jointly organised by GWL and WEA, and led by the enlivening Penny, who taught us various marching songs including ‘Bella Ciao’, ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round’, ‘It’s a Gude Cause’, and the gloriously titled ‘Nana Was a Suffragette’.
Penny would sing a song for the group making the words sound soulful and the tunes melodically simple. Then we would try to copy her, and realise that the words were tongue-twisters and the tunes erratically tricky (or was that just me?). But with patience and a tuner, we were swept away with the spirit of the songs, singing perfect harmonies with sisterly pride.
But as much fun as I have had over the last couple of weeks, it has all been for a Gude Cause – not just a march, but a social and political movement through time. The issues we are marching for are not restricted to Scottish women, nor are they remnants of the past; they are universal, current, and will not be quashed! So with banners and voices at the ready, all we need now are authentic period costumes and sturdy marching boots; the courage to continue the fight our fore-mothers started and the perseverance to make them proud.