Our story is set just after the first world war in Poplar, an east London borough with a population of 160,000 people crammed into the docklands in the bend of the River Thames (Poplar) and the area just north of it (Bow).
Women in history
This is the dad
working five months away
from his family, keeping
starvation at bay
This is the mum
taking work when it comes
boiling laundry and toiling
for pitiful sums
1918 had ended with British women voting in a general election for the first time ever. But it was only those aged 30 or over and who met a property qualification who could vote.
When Rosa gazed through prison bars to street
She saw the water buffalo which drove
The heavy coated cart on cloven feet
And when they could not pull their weighty load
Their master turned his whip and beat and strapped
Until they bled and flinched and hauled and strained
The final yards, their last resources sapped
And stood, defeated, bloodied, sad and pained
Janine's speech proposing this motion on the 50th Anniversary of the Abortion Act at RMT Women's Conference 2017.