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March 2015

Inaugural Pankhurst Lecture delivered by Shami Chakrabarti

(27 February 2015)

Nearly 600 people attended the inaugural Pankhurst Lecture delivered by Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and Honorary Professor in the School of Law at The University of Manchester. The audience, a mixture of staff, students, alumni and the general public, heard Shami declare gender injustice to be the greatest and most entrenched injustice in the world today.

The lecture, the first in a series, is named in honour of Christabel Pankhurst, who graduated from The University of Manchester with a first class law degree, but was unable to join the legal profession on account of her gender. As Shami reflected during the lecture, Christabel went on to use her law degree as a radical rather than a professional, co-founding the Women’s Social and Political Union, the leading organisation campaigning for women’s suffrage in Great Britain.

Despite the achievements which have been gained in women’s struggles for their basic human rights the world over, Shami highlighted the divide between the proportion of law graduates and partners in legal firms who are female and that Baroness Brenda Hale, who spent many years teaching at Manchester, remains the first and only woman in Britain's highest court. 

The lecture was introduced by Professor Margot Brazier, who took the opportunity to announce The University of Manchester’s Social Responsibility mission to actively encourage our students to register to vote ahead of the general and local elections on 7 May 2015, highlighting the link that much of Christabel Pankhurst’s public profile was centred on the right to vote.

Ahead of the lecture Shami Chakrabarti shared her thoughts on the future of human rights on the School of Law blog.