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Owner of famous suffragette’s sash to speak at UCLan for International Women’s Day

Barbara Gorna

A women’s rights campaigner who owns the sash that suffragette Emily Davison famously tried to attach to the King’s horse in 1913 will visit the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to mark International Women’s Day on the 8 March.

Barbara Gorna, who originally hails from Chipping, has spent the last 20 years campaigning for women’s rights, including serving on Government Committees pushing for and creating change in the fields of domestic abuse and co-habitees.

Barbara also owns the telegram that Queen Alexandra sent to the jockey riding the horse belonging to her son, King George V, which Emily Davison famously fell under and was killed by at the Epsom Derby in 1913.

The campaigner will join other speakers including Lancashire human rights activist Saima Afzal MBE and the Chief Executive of Disability North West, Mel Close.

Barbara, who completed a law degree at what was Lancashire Polytechnic in 1979 before going onto work for a number of international companies, said: “It’s 2018 and ‘you’ve come along way baby’ according to the song. But have we? We still have to fight for equal pay, equal rights and equal visibility in the media.

“We will be equal when no one notices whether there is only one woman on the panel because there will be 50% as the norm; when child maintenance is paid promptly and with good grace; when women subject to domestic violence are not forced to leave the home and hide with the children – that’s like giving the burglar your house – when women are not afraid to speak up and speak out like our Suffragette sisters of old; the plucky mill girls in their shawls and clogs (and my great grandmother, grandmother and mother worked in those ‘satanic mills’), then we can say, ‘well done, sister suffragettes’.”

The event has been organised by UCLan principal law lecturer Vivienne Ivins.  It will also examine:

  • The challenges currently faced by disabled women;
  • The experiences of women living with HIV and domestic abuse;
  • The experiences of women in professional sport.
  • How domestic violence affects women at work, hampering their performance, attendance and career development.

Vivienne commented: “I feel very strongly that International Women’s Day should not go unmarked and for many years Lancashire Law School has held events on the 8 March to speak out about women’s rights.

“This year, of course, marks 100 years since women were awarded a limited right to vote and we are hosting a conference celebrating the undoubted bravery and ultimate success of the women of the suffragist movement, but also reflecting on the everyday discrimination and struggles and abuses still faced by women. Our speakers will, therefore, reflect the role played by the strong and determined women of the North West in advancing the principles of equality, whilst raising awareness of the very current issues faced by many.”