Woman in red hat
When anyone asks if I’m a feminist, I say, “I’m a democrat,” because I believe in fair play. But I admit to having been involved, around 1970, in organizing demos, marches, sit-ins and the memorable torchlit march of 700 women to Downing Street to demand equality.

This may explain why I was invited to the London School of Economics for the opening of The Women’s Library in its new setting, and to view suffragette museum memorabilia. It was moving to look at the return ticket from Epsom in Emily Davidson’s little purse; it was exasperating to read a handwritten letter from Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin to Dame Millicent Fawcett to tell her, in 1928, that Parliament had at last agreed that all women should have the vote.

It’s a pity that we don’t use the vote better, to get a fair deal for women. Nearly fifty years after the Equal Pay Act, the average pay gap has widened to 20%, according to Yvette Cooper, MP of the Labour Party. But men still believe that they have a right to earn 20% more than women, for doing the same work. But why? Most men aren’t speciality sex workers.

Shirley Conran 2012, updated 2014.

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