Emmeline Pankhurst (b. July 15, 1858, Manchester, England – d. June 14, 1928, Hampstead, England) was a British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote. Born in Moss Side, Manchester to politically active parents, Pankhurst was introduced at the age of 14 to the women's suffrage movement. On 18 December 1879, she married Richard Pankhurst, a barrister known for supporting women's right to vote; they had five children over the next ten years. Pankhurst founded the Women's Franchise League; when that organisation broke apart, she tried to join the left-leaning Independent Labour Party but was initially refused membership by the local branch on account of her gender. While working as a Poor Law Guardian, she was shocked at the harsh conditions she encountered in Manchester's workhouses.
In 1903 Pankhurst founded the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an all-women suffrage advocacy organisation dedicated to "deeds, not words". The group identified as independent from – and often in opposition to – political parties. It became known for physical confrontations: its members smashed windows and assaulted police officers. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other WSPU activists received repeated prison sentences, where they staged hunger strikes to secure better conditions. As Pankhurst's eldest daughter Christabel took leadership of the WSPU, antagonism between the group and the government grew. Eventually the group adopted arson as a tactic, and more moderate organisations spoke out against the Pankhurst family. In 1913 several prominent individuals left the WSPU, among them Pankhurst's daughters Adela and Sylvia.
With the advent of the First World War, Emmeline and Christabel called an immediate halt to militant suffrage activism in support of the British government's stand against the "German Peril". They urged women to aid industrial production and encouraged young men to fight, becoming prominent figures in the white feather movement. Pankhurst transformed the WSPU machinery into the Women's Party, which was dedicated to promoting women's equality in public life. She died on 14 June 1928, only weeks before the Conservative government's Representation of the People Act (1928) extended the vote to all women over 21 years of age on 2 July 1928. She was commemorated two years later with a statue in London's Victoria Tower Gardens.