Female MSPs to lead the suffragette march

THEY would not have had the right to vote, never mind stand for election, when they marched through the city a century ago.

Now female MSPs and councillors will lead a re-enactment of the suffragettes' march of 1909, a key event in the battle to win equal voting rights.

Around 4,000 men, women and children, with many dressed in period costume, will take part in the colourful event on Saturday. The march – dubbed "A Gude Cause" – will pay tribute to the suffragettes, and highlight the inequalities still faced by women.

Many participants will dress as important female figures from history. They will carry banners with original slogans, including "Votes for Women" and "A Gude Cause Maks a Strong Arm".

MSPs from all parties, including Fiona Hyslop, Sarah Boyack and Shirley Anne Somerville will walk together. Former MSP and MP Donald Gorrie, whose aunts Belle and Mary Gorrie played Mary Queen of Scots and Catherine Barlass in the original parade, will also take part.

The marchers will include policewomen on horses, led by Pipe Major Louise Marshall Millington, community groups, trade unions, youth groups and schools.

They will gather at 12:30pm before winding their way across the Meadows and down the Royal Mile. They will stop outside the City Chamber where council leader Jenny Dawe will speak.

Unlike the original march, they will skip Princes Street, instead finishing at Calton Hill. Ms Hyslop, the Scottish education secretary will be speaking, before choirs sing songs celebrating Scottish women over the last century.

The original parade took place on 9 October 1909, finishing with a rally at Waverley Market, where Emmeline Pankhurst addressed the crowds. Women over 30 were given the vote in 1918, but they did not win equal voting rights with men until 1928.

Organiser Janet Fenton, co-ordinator of the Peace and Justice Centre said: "These women were not just struggling for suffrage for its own sake, they wanted to make a better world. They wanted equality. While there has been a huge amount achieved in the last century, there's still more to do."

She said the idea was born following a parade in 2007, shortly before the Scottish Parliament elections, to encourage women to use their vote.

Staff, students and graduates from Queen Margaret University will carry a banner paying tribute to Christian Guthrie Wright and Louisa Stevenson, who founded the Edinburgh School of Cookery which became Queen Margaret University.