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Defaced penny. Suffragettes and womens' rights

Level: Intermediate/High
Do you want to learn about the women's rights movements in England?

A defaced penny takes us back to the fight of women for freedom.

We took this reading/listening from the series 100 objects by the BBC

If you want to download the text, vocabulary and listening, click HERE

If you want to listen to the BBC page, click  HERE 

"votes for women" written on a penny. This protest tactic was used by British suffragettes in their fight for women's rights


1. Defacing a penny was a means of protest. Suffragettes used other tactics such as attacking a painting by Velazquez, going on hunger strike, sending letter bombs or killing themselves.

How have protest tactics changed within the past one hundred years?

 2. The world has plunged into protests and riots. The protesters in Barcelona, New York, Iceland, Greece and the Arab Spring in many Muslim and non-Muslim countries are some of the examples we see on the news everyday.

How are these protests different between each other or compared with the fight of the suffragettes in England?

3. How has the fight of the British Suffragettes help others to obtain the recognition of their rights?

 4. Mister Gladstone said: "I have no fear lest the woman should encroach upon the power of the man. The fear I have is, lest we should invite her unwittingly to trespass against the delicacy, the purity, the refinement, the elevation of her own nature, which are the present sources of its power."

This is a very cynical statement. What was Prime Minister Gladstone’s feeling about the women’s rights actually?

 5. We have seen that women had to fight really hard to get the right to vote, but the women’s fight hasn’t finished yet because  they are still suffering  from sex discrimination. On top of that  other vulnerable groups are still fighting for their rights.

 a) Can you think of some discrimination that women or other vulnerable groups suffer in our society nowadays?

b) What actions could we take against this discrimination?

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