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Seven Dangerous Women

Submitted by on March 8, 2012 – 1:05 amNo Comment
Ellen Wilkinson
was born in Manchester, the daughter of a worker in a textile factory, and went to Ardwick School. A pacifist, she became known as Red Ellen both for the colour of her hair and for her politics. Active in the 1926 General Strike, in 1936 Ellen organised a march of 200 unemployed workers from Jarrow to London where she presented a petition to parliament calling for government action. She helped to establish the Dependents Aid Committee, an organisation which raised money for the families of men who were members of the International Brigade. She was Minister of Education, the first woman in British history to hold the post. Ellen persuaded Parliament to pass the 1946 School Milk Act that gave free milk to all British schoolchildren.
Sylvia Pankhurst
was totally opposed to the First World War and was expelled from her mother’s Women’s Social and Political Union (the suffragettes) because they supported the war. She responded by launching a Socialist newspaper, ‘The Workers’ Dreadnought’, which took a strong anti-war stance. Sylvia went on to form the East London Federation of Suffragettes which not only campaigned for women’s suffrage but also universal suffrage and linked women’s liberation with the class struggle.
Alexandra Kollontai
was a Russian Communist revolutionary, elected to the Bolshevik Central Committee in August 1917 and becoming an enthusiastic participant in the seizure of power in November 1917. In 1919 she became the first female government minister in Europe. In 1923, she was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Norway, becoming the world’s first female ambassador in modern times. A champion of women’s equality but, like other Marxists of her time, opposed the bourgeois ideology of liberal feminism.
Katharine Glasier
was on her way to church when she encountered a demonstration by low-paid women workers. Katharine asked the women about their problems and these women converted her to socialism. Katharine attracted large crowds to hear her talk:“She has a peculiar magnetic influence over her audiences, and larger audiences could be drawn for her than for almost any others.” Katharine wrote for the radical newspaper, the Manchester Sunday Chronicle. Katharine once said that to her, “socialism was the economic expression of Christianity.” “To stand on a platform of the Free Trade Hall, to be able to sway a great crowd, to be able to make people work to make life better, to remove slums and underfeeding and misery just because one came and spoke to them about it – that seemed the highest destiny any women could ever hope for.”
Rosa Luxemburg
“Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.”
Rosa reorganised the Spartacus League and founded the Red Flag newspaper. The Spartacist League vehemently rejected support for the first world war, trying to lead Germany’s proletariat to an anti-war general strike. As a result, in June 1916 Luxemburg was imprisoned for two and a half years. In January 1919 a second revolutionary wave swept Berlin. Luxemburg was imprisoned again, questioned violently and executed.
Pat Arrowsmith
is a British author and peace campaigner, born 2 March 1930. She is a co-founder of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. She has served eleven prison sentences for her political activities. In 1961 she was the subject of parliamentary questions after she was force-fed while on hunger strike in Gateside prison. She is an advocate of civil disobedience and passive resistance.
Manager of the Working Class Movement Library. Tony Benn said of her that, as the custodian of the history of the British working class, she is a very dangerous woman.







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