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Manchester High School for Girls

AFTERNOON TEA WITH DR HELEN PANKHURST

On Monday 23rd April, Dr Helen Pankhurst, the great granddaughter of suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, hosted a special afternoon tea at Manchester High School for Girls.

Dr Pankhurst, whose grandmother is MHSG alumna, Sylvia Pankhurst (another key figure in the suffragette movement) has certainly kept up with family traditions, and is herself a respected women’s rights campaigner. 

To mark the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, when some women in this country were first granted the right to vote, Dr Pankhurst’s new book, Deeds Not Words, addresses the question she is often asked; why is equality taking so long? 

As part of her continued research, Dr Pankhurst met with over 30 members of the MHSG alumnae community, all of whom were from families where more than one generation had attended Manchester High School for Girls.

Class of 2017 alumna Emily Herd, with her Grandmother and Class of 1960 alumna, Sandra Tomlinson

Mums, daughters, grandmothers and aunties came together in the Zochonis Lecture Theatre to enjoy afternoon tea and discuss questions set by Dr Pankhurst; why must women wait until 2069 for the gender pay gap to close completely? Why are one in three women globally still experiencing sexual or physical violence? How can we work together to create a fairer society?

When speaking with guests, Dr Pankhurst revealed that, as she has been travelling the country, and indeed the globe, she has found it almost impossible not to bump into pupils of Manchester High School for Girls. She commented: “Wherever I go, women will introduce themselves to me as former pupils of this incredible school. The connection and sense of honour they feel to have been educated at the same school as my relatives is clear to see and I know that all MHSG girls, both past and present, are incredibly proud of the suffragette legacy.”

Noor Al-Saffar, Dr Pankhurst and Alexandra Thacker

Current pupils, Noor Al-Saffar (Year 11) and Alexandra Thacker (Senior Sixth) both have passages featured in Deeds Not Words. They attended the event to share their thoughts in person with Dr Pankhurst about what it is like to be a young woman growing up in today’s world.

The event ended with Dr Pankhurst signing copies of her book and Linda Price, from the Class of 1981, commented: “It was a great privilege to meet Dr Helen Pankhurst and to share the opportunity with other members of my family. The format worked wonderfully, especially discussing what the future holds for issues relating to women’s rights.”

To see more photographs from the event see our flickr album here.

Dr Helen Pankhurst will be the School’s Guest of Honour and deliver the address at our Celebration and Awards Evening at the Bridgewater Hall on Tuesday 2nd October 2018. Further details will be available at the start of the next academic year.