As the 20th January is Democracy Day, did you give it a second thought? Do you realise that the Houses of Parliament opened in 1832 and ever since then, here in the West, we have taken freedom of speech for granted. We are allowed opinions and so too are other parts of the world, but to a seemingly lesser extent. As women, we should know the history of the Suffragettes, yet some people don’t and nor do they realise that the right to be a housewife also stems from the same era. Gone were the workhouses and the wet nurses who would look after your children whilst you worked full time.
In some countries, your children wouldn’t be able to go to school if they were girls or if you did not have the money to pay. Funnily enough it was men AND women who started the Ragged Schools Union, which in 1844, set out to offer destitute children free education. This could have been the guiding influence for the later Education Act, though there were other schools before then.
What does this have to do with democracy you may ask? Well, without these freedoms we would not have developed as a multicultural nation.
We can disagree about religion, as did the Puritan Fathers who settled in America in the Seventieth century, who were Protestants, and disagreed with the, then, monarch. Freedom of speech should not be taken for granted as a right but treated as a luxury and to do this, we need to remain tolerant of opposing opinions and views. In some countries, a woman cannot go into a shop to buy tampons and has to stay at home. You may not agree with this, but it is a cultural difference that needs to be respected. What do you think?
For Plato, democracy is, ‘a charming of government full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.’ For me, democracy is like a car. Sometimes the oil doesn’t do what it should and everything seizes up, but it can be fixed and made to run more efficiently. In other words, sometimes it doesn’t work as well as it should but then nothing is perfect and at least we still have the chance to speak up and try to make a change.