Women’s suffrage: Trio of Islington youth councillors on ‘normal people doing extraordinary things’
PUBLISHED: 17:59 06 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:59 06 February 2018
Steve Bainbridge/Islington Council
A trio of Islington teenagers are drawing inspiration from the plight of the Suffragettes as they take their first steps into politics.
Speaking up for women from all backgrounds is a key part of their manifesto for Ayaan Abdulle, Jackie Appiah-Kubi and Honey Baker – all of whom were elected to the Islington youth council back in November when a record-breaking 5,815 young people went to the ballot box.
In a week marking 100 years since the first women were given the right to vote, the budding politicians – all 15 – told the Gazette how the Suffragettes still galvanise them to push for change.
“Ordinary women can rise up; normal people can do extraordinary things together,” Ayaan said. “The Suffragettes weren’t politicians or councillors because they couldn’t be. They were everyday women.”
Jackie, who attends Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School with Ayaan, added: “They inspire me to speak up for things that are wrong, especially against women.”
Obstacles remain for young women growing up in Islington, with issues cited by the trio ranging from sexual harassment and for many girls an obsession with self-image that is fuelled by “celebrities” on social media.
Honey, who goes to Arts and Media School, Islington said: “A lot of girls are worried about not being pretty enough. There’s a big pressure on us.”
Inspiration for the trio is not hard to come by, however, with Jackie citing Hackney MP Diane Abbott – along with her mother – as an icon. Ms Abbott was the first black woman elected to Parliament in 1987.
The global impact of female figures is important to the young councillors as well, including former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi and 20-year-old Malala Yousafzai – the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.
Ayaan said: “Indira wore traditional clothes – she didn’t change herself to fit her role.”
“Malala really inspires me as she stood up for women’s right to education,” added Honey. “She knew it was dangerous, but knew she had to speak her mind.”
The young women are all determined to use their roles in the council will provide them with a platform to get their voices heard.