Darlington College equalities co-ordinator Alison Bell, who led the project, said: “There has been a lot of publicity recently around the ‘Time’s Up’ and ‘Me Too’ campaigns, highlighting the struggles that some women still face in the workplace today.
“This project has helped our students recognise how far we have come in the past 100 years and to see how far we still have to go to ensure equal rights across the board for both men and women.
“I think many of them found it hard to understand that there was a time when women didn’t have the right to vote, work or even have their voices heard and it has really helped raise awareness of political and social change.”
Fabrication, welding and engineering students created wrought iron railings in recognition of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, who chained herself to the fence at Buckingham Palace in 1914 in protest against the discrimination of women.
Hairdressing students used barrel curls, victory rolls and pin curling to create styles from the Victorian era on model heads using the green, white and purple ribbons worn by the suffragettes. Construction students built wooden placards and business and administration students created posters highlighting the suffragettes’ campaign.
As well as using individual talents to create visual references to the era, male students undertook sessions on role reversal putting themselves in the position of the suffragettes and modern women of today.
Student Mouhyedin Alkhalil, 25, who arrived in Darlington as a refugee from Syria in 2017, said: “It was interesting to put myself in the position of a woman.
“Even though women have the same rights as men in today’s society, I still think it is hard for many women to push through the glass ceiling in the workplace and we must work even harder to redress the balance.
“In Syria women do have equal rights but they are not expected to work to support the family and the man is still viewed as the main breadwinner.”
Hairdressing and beauty student Olivia Hartley, 15, added: “I would have found it very hard 100 years ago not to have had the rights that women enjoy today.
“Although men and women are equal men still dominate the workplace, even in an industry like hairdressing, where many of the top celebrity stylists are men, so we have to continue to push against discrimination to achieve our goal.”
The suffragette collaboration project will go on display for visitors to view at Darlington College’s open evening on March 21, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.