In the week where we are celebrating the first women winning the right to vote, I've asked some Labour women in the South West to write about women and politics. Sarah Church, Labour's Parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, has written a profile of one of Labour's Parliamentary pioneers:
As one of Labour’s Parliamentary Pioneers, Dorothy Jewson did far more for women than to blaze the trail to the House of Commons. She understood that for women to gain true equality, education about and access to contraception was fundamental to women of any class, but particularly the working class, to take control of their bodies and their futures. Up to this point, a woman in her mid-30s could expect to undergo around 20 pregnancies and a large family of surviving children, a situation that took its toll physically, economically and professionally. Dorothy Jewson was the Labour women’s voice for birth control whose legacy has had an impact that spans generations and to whom I am personally grateful.
Dorothy only served as a Member of Parliament for ten months in total, but her work before, during and after this time as a campaigner marks her out. She had a privileged start in life with an education at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, but her understanding of the social injustices facing women of all classes, but most particularly the working class, led her politics. Dorothy joined with Margaret Bondfield and Mary McArthur as an organiser for the National Federation of Women’s Workers in 1916 before becoming MP for Norwich in the 1923 General Election. She became President of the Workers’ Birth Control Group in 1924.