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Civic welcome in Leeds for emblem of women’s suffrage struggle

The tireless campaign in support of women’s voting rights during the early years of the 20th century is getting a civic salute this week in Leeds.

A flag in the green, white and violet colours of the suffrage movement was proudly carried through the streets of the city centre today.

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The flag, which was walked from City Square up Park Row to Millennium Square, is on a nationwide tour to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act.

A duplicate will be flying at Leeds Civic Hall throughout the week, with council buildings also due to be lit up in green, white and violet this evening.

Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake said: “This was a great opportunity for the city to receive the Suffrage Flag.

“Events like this are one of the ways we can ensure that the voices of women in our city continue to be heard.

“A range of work is already taking place across the city to ensure that women and girls are empowered to have a greater voice and influence in the city, but there is much more to do to ensure that as Leeds continues to thrive, the benefits of economic growth are felt by all and not just the few.”

Coun Blake was one of the speakers at a celebration and networking event held at Leeds Civic Hall today to tie in with the flag’s latest stop on its tour of the UK.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Graham Latty, also made a speech on the steps of Leeds Civic Hall.

The passing of the Representation of the People Act in February 1918 extended voting rights to more than eight million women in the UK.

A number of key figures in the suffrage movement hailed from Leeds, including Mary Gawthorpe, Isabella Ford and Leonora Cohen, with the latter being dubbed the ‘Tower Suffragette’ after smashing a display case holding the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London in 1913.

She was later appointed as one of the first female magistrates in the country.