Carolyn Davidson

Her Majesty Ambassador to Honduras

Guest blogger for Thomas Carter

Part of FCDO Outreach

8th March 2017 Guatemala City

Emmeline Pankhurst and Gladys Lanza: being bold for change

Emmeline Pankhurst, the suffragette who led the fight – and it really was a fight – for women’s right to vote in the UK at the turn of the 20th century, is Manchester’s most famous daughter. I feel a particular affinity to her, not only because Manchester is my home town, but also because her daughters went to the same school as me (although, despite what my sons think, considerably before my time). Emmeline has also been on my mind because Manchester is, wisely but rather belatedly, about to commission a statue of her (The Womanchester Statue Project). In 1999 Time magazine named her as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, saying “she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back.” She was #BoldForChange. She was determined, passionate about her cause and undoubtedly very brave. She reminds me of Gladys Lanza.


Gladys, who sadly passed away in September, last year was a tireless campaigner for women and workers’ rights in Honduras. She led the Women’s movement for Peace “Visitación Padilla”, through which she fought against gender violence and promoted changes to strengthen democracy in Honduras, including the political participation of women. She too was bold, standing up for women when they were abused or threatened. She risked prison for her beliefs, and Honduran prisons are not somewhere most women in their seventies would choose to be. She was truly an inspiration. She was a leading figure for a project, supported by this Embassy, on tackling violence against women and how it is reported in the media. She provided support, advice and her indomitable spirit and now a year after our project completed, the work and the commitment continues. The Platform for Women against Femicides has grown in confidence and capability media organisations increasingly recognise their role to combat violence against women and universities now have the issue firmly incorporated on their syllabus for media studies. We are starting to see a change.

But change requires effort from all of us. Today gender equality is widely accepted as the norm. It is enshrined in the UN declaration of human rights and acknowledged as a fundamental tenet of all democracies. And yet the reality is very different. Women may, according to the old Chinese proverb, “hold up half the sky,” but they certainly do not get the economic or political credit for it, and far too many girls do not even get the chance of an education which would transform both their lives and their country’s economic prospects. The World Economic Forum predicts that full gender equality will not be achieved on a global scale until 2186 – that’s almost 170 years from now. What does that say about us and our ability to act? Last week our Foreign Secretary announced the appointment of a new Special Envoy for Gender Equality , underscoring the UK’s commitment to address inequality and secure the rights of women and girls through all our international activity. The UK will continue to #BeBoldForChange. We owe it to Emmeline, to Gladys and to all those women who have not seen the progress they craved during their lifetimes. We should ensure we do.

Gladys Lanza supporting Human Rights in Honduras

Emmeline Pankhurst

2 comments on “Emmeline Pankhurst and Gladys Lanza: being bold for change

  1. Excellent blog. We must never take for granted those women who have been #BoldForChange for the benefit of us all.

Comments are closed.

About Thomas Carter

Tom Carter arrived in Guatemala in August 2015. This is his second ambassadorial job, the first being as British High Commissioner to Zambia (2008 to 2012). Tom worked on the…

Tom Carter arrived in Guatemala in August 2015. This is his second ambassadorial job, the first being as British High Commissioner to Zambia (2008 to 2012). Tom worked on the London 2012 Olympic Games, and was until recently in charge of the FCO’s global consular policy, working out of London. He has spent much of his career in Europe (France, Germany and Slovakia), but also in Colombia and Thailand. Tom is married to another career diplomat, Carolyn Davidson, with whom he shared the job in Zambia and who is now British Ambassador to Honduras. They have two teenage sons.

Follow Thomas