Three years ago, on Sunday 10 June, women and girls invaded the streets of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London as part of PROCESSIONS, a mass participation artwork to mark 100 years of women voting.

“….AND STILL I RISE” , the title of a poetry collection by Maya Angelou. It also features a portrait of the black British activist Olive Morris. As well as words and values important to the women who made the banner.
Banner by Service users from East London Foundation Trust, Tower Hamlets working with Claudette Johnson

This celebratory reclamation of public space recognised the women who had fought for some kind of equality a century earlier, and expressed contemporary concerns of women today. 

Banner by Clean Break working with Miriam Nabarro

The banners they carried included calls for an end to male violence against women, an end to domestic abuse, and for reproductive and economic rights. 

A yellow banner, at the centre are the words “WE SEE YOUR GENTLE THREATS” On the banner is also the manifesto collectively writen by a group of women from South Wales who have encountered gender-based violence.
Banner by HEXXX working with Welsh Women’s Aid, PROCESSIONS 2018. Photo by Artichoke and Google Arts & Culture

For a few hours, women owned the streets.

A still of the crowd of women walking in London during PROCESSIONS, in a wave of green white and purple
PROCESSIONS 2018 London, an Artichoke Project, Commissioned by 14-18 NOW. Photo by Sheila Burnett

Today, as we struggle to process recent events, we understand how far from real change we still are, and how the fear of male violence continues to shape and restrict women’s lives. The images of police holding handcuffed women mourners to the ground echoed those of suffragettes arrested for protesting women’s rights 100 years ago. We are alarmed at the assault on civil rights passing through Parliament and efforts to curb our right to protest as citizens in a free society.

black-and-white image of a woman campaigning for the vote being restrained by three policemen, behind them is a fourth policeman on a horse
A woman campaigning for the vote is restrained by policemen. IMAGE: SSPL/GETTY IMAGES

We mourn the deaths of Sarah Everard, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry, Blessing Olusegun, and of the 118 women who have died at the hands of men in the UK in the last 12 months. We stand with their families, and with all women everywhere who suffer male abuse and violence every day.

Slogan “HOLD FAST” on a banner, in the center is an image of two arms clasping at each other, both are tattooed, one with the words “The women before us
Banner by Plymouth College of Art working with Elizabeth Masterton