The History of Women's Movement in Thanet

suffragettes thanet history of women

The Suffragettes and The Pioneer Society

Thanet's ties to the women's movement go back to the late 1800s, when suffragette groups were founded in Margate and Ramsgate.
In Margate, the Pioneer Society was established by Mrs Wools (the chemist's wife) and Mrs Bobby of Bobby's Department Stores fame. The society's aims were 'to further the interests of women, instil a feeling of comradeship, help charities and enjoy intellectual and social amenities; among other things they built the Pioneer Hall in Cliftonville.

In the Victorian age Thanet became an established holiday destination for well-to-do Londoners, many of whom hired houses for the season. While their husbands worked in London during the week, coming down by ferry on Friday evenings, their wives had an unprecedented level of freedom from scrutiny. This was exacerbated by the heady atmosphere of gaiety, all donkey rides and bathing machines; the time was ripe for a revolution!

Of course, this was all still quite genteel; Mrs Bobby was not going to smash her own shop windows. But some suffragettes did graffiti the walls in Ramsgate (in chalk), to announce the visit of Emmeline Pankhurst in April 1910, and the picture above shows her daughter Christabel (centre, with flowers) outside the Theatre Royal, Margate in July of the same year. Women of property, and over the age of 30 gained the vote in 1918; but universal suffrage was only granted in 1928.

The Pioneer Society continued to meet until May 1999, when they decided there was no longer a need for an organisation such as theirs. 

Thank you to the Margate Museum for the information and image from their archive.

For more information about Margate Museum please visit

International Women's Day 2017

international women's day 2017

International Women's Day

March 8th 2017

For International Women's Day 2017, we're asking you to #BeBoldForChange.
Call on the masses or call on yourself to help forge a better working world - a more gender inclusive world.

Last year, organizations and individuals around the world supported the #PledgeForParity campaign and committed to help women and girls achieve their ambitions; challenge conscious and unconscious bias; call for gender-balanced leadership; value women and men's contributions equally; and create inclusive flexible cultures. From awareness raising to concrete action, organizations rallied their people to pledge support to help forge gender parity on International Women’s Day (IWD) and beyond.

But the World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won't close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. Around the world, IWD is an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women.

What if the world stepped up to take bold action?In 2017, Be Bold For Change and take groundbreaking action that truly drives the greatest change for women.
Each of us - with men and women joining forces - can be a leader within our own spheres of influence and take bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. We can collectively help women advance and unleash the limitless potential offered to economies the world over.

We have urgent work to do. Are you ready to #BeBoldForChange this IWD 2017 and beyond?

POW!er Profiles : Mounira Almenoar

mounira almenoar pow thanet

In the latest of our series of POW!er Profiles, we speak to Mounira Almenoar from Openspace Yoga, who will be leading a workshop on March 11th.

Originally from London, Mounira has been a regular visitor to Thanet all her life. She explains: ‘I grew up in London and came to Thanet about 2 years ago to enjoy a quieter life by sea, close to London. I used to come here a lot as a child so it was a familiar spot on my radar - being a big family we couldn't afford to travel abroad so we'd come to Margate to enjoy the beach and a breath of fresh air most summers. And then in the 90's I'd travel 'daaaaan to Margit' for the rave weekenders at the Lido which were awesome! Since moving here I have spent a lot of time away -  travelling and living/working in Australia, so Margate life still feels like a fairly new and exciting adventure for me.’

The contrast with London is very much part of the appeal. ‘ I love the skies, the sea and the calm juxtaposed with the buzz of creative energy around the place. I love the fact that everything you need locally is no more than 10 minutes away - and of course the great community spirit that exists here. I love the volume and variety of events happening across Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate - each town giving its own flavour.’

Even in two years, she has seen loads of changes to the Isle. ‘I have seen big changes here. Thanet feels like the land of opportunity for some, with the rise of the 21st century artisan businesses setting up here  - but there is a lot of work for us to do as a whole community to ensure that everyone can play a part in, and enjoy, the benefits of change. We need to work together and move forward with conscience and compassion. Festivals such as POW Thanet to celebrate IWD will help with community cohesion - especially as the festival grows each year giving us the opportunity celebrate and raise awareness together. Young women need good role models and inspiration!

We have come a long way in one sense, but the 'age of information' poses new challenges for women and girls; there is often a precarious dichotomy between the virtual world and reality, especially with the current emphasis on visual image and the selfie-culture. Misogyny and unconscious bias still exist (albeit just under the surface at times) despite equal opportunities legislation and the implimentation of diversity and inclusion strategy. As well as Openspace Yoga, I also work as a freelance project manager and researcher in film and education - my most recent research project involved an analysis of diversity best practice in the film and TV industries internationally (off camera). Such work highlighted the need for continuing education and awareness especially in the workplace for women. The cultural landscape is constantly changing - we mustn't take our eye of the ball - the great work continues, and fun festivals such as POW Thanet offer a platform for us to celebrate our richness and discuss our challenges.'

This is the second year Mounira has taken part in POW!Thanet.  I'm the founder of Openspace Yoga and we are delighted to be delivering the Take Some Time for You - Yoga Workshop as part of the programme this year - and for the second year running. The focus of this workshop will be on using yoga practice to help bring us to the core of our being, encouraging a creative and empowering experience by taking some time for us.

I'm also volunteering at the festival so that I can really get stuck in this year! It's great to see the programme growing to include more wellbeing events such as The Power of Mindfulness discussion event for which I'm on the panel, as well as Openspace Yoga's workshop. And I love the dance element this year spanning a range of ages and styles. Onwards and upwards!

POW!er Profiles : Megan Dyos

Megan Dyos pow thanet

Megan Dyos was born in Thanet, and went to school in Ramsgate until she was 7. As she explains: ‘We then moved out of the area, and returned when I was 14 and I went to The Charles Dickens School and then sixth form at Chatham House. Growing up by the sea was just beautiful, and even though I no longer live in Thanet I am constantly popping home to get some sea air!  Ramsgate is my favourite town in Thanet. There is a huge amount of history, and I just love the Harbour and the stark contrast between the empty and bleak beaches in the winter with the wild sea horses crashing right out into the channel, compared to the busy, bustling summer months where everyone uses the beaches to top up their tan. I love it - Ramsgate will always be my home.’ 

Having grown up here, she has seen the area evolve: ‘All of Thanet has undergone huge changes since I was young. Thanet is on the London map more than it has ever been in my lifetime and so many people are coming down to the area, meaning that more places are opening up and independent businesses in town are unique and make Ramsgate even more worth visiting. Seeing places such as the former Royal Pavilion in Ramsgate developed is so exciting for the area!’  

Famed as one of the all-female coxless crew who rowed the Pacific in 2015, Megan shares POW!Thanet’s belief that women are to be celebrated. ‘As well as aiding discussion, it's a chance to celebrate all the achievements and contributions that women have added to the world! I am passionate about women and just how strong and beautiful we all are as a sex, and that is why I wanted to be involved in International Women’s Day.’

Though of course that’s not to say there still isn’t room for improvement. ‘Although there are numerous issues that we are all facing today, there is one in particular that is just so prominent - the gender pay gap. Women now make up 47% of the UK workforce, but figures from 2014 show that for every pound a man makes, a woman will only earn 80p. 
I want everyone to be able to reach their dreams and not be held back by any unequal nonsense. The only person that should be able to hold you back is yourself, not your sex, not your background, not your race - we are all equal.’ 

Megan certainly refuses to be held back; she wasn’t even a rower when she joined The Coxless Crew; ‘After working as an Estate Agent in the City, and having never rowed before, I left to row across the Pacific Ocean with The Coxless Crew, an all-female crew of six women. We set two world records and as a team managed to cross the whole 9000 miles of the Pacific from America to Australia in our pink 29 foot rowing boat called Doris completely unsupported; raising funds for Breast Cancer Care and Walking with the Wounded. I will be talking about our experience at the Taylor Hall, St Lawrence College on Friday 10 March, inspiring others to say ‘YES’!

I would hope that this festival continues to be a celebration of women’s achievements and success - a platform to inspire younger women to be the best that they can be, and to continue to empower women. I would also hope that this is a festival that continues to work as a call to action for accelerating gender parity.’

Megan is now inspiring the next generation.Since returning from the row, I am training to be an English Teacher in South East London. I decided whilst rowing that I wanted to inspire the younger generation to say ‘yes’, get outside and feel empowered that they can do anything that they set out to achieve.  I have not rowed since I have been back and, considering I hadn’t rowed before I got onto Doris, I might leave the rowing to a Pacific Ocean memory! I am back into running and am currently preparing for a half marathon over Easter.'