Colours of the Women's Suffrage movement

Posted by Sally Lees on

Together but divided

When women's suffrage or the suffragettes are mentioned the colours purple, green and white come to mind and although these were key colours of some of the Women's Social and Political Union that supported and promoted and fought for women's right to vote they were by no means the only colours to represent the movement.
There were many different organisations involved in the women's suffrage movement and although their goal, emancipation for women, was the same they definitely supported different ways of protesting.
When the WSUP headed by Emmeline Pankhurst became increasingly active and resorted to violence against police men and began bombing campaings the more passve Millicent Fawcett began her own women's suffrage organisation called the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. They were known as suffragists and the WSUP as suffragettes.

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National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and Women's Socia Political Union pin badges circa 1911

Colour Schemes

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, first devised a colour scheme for the WSPU hoping to unify the Suffragette movement. These colours, purple for loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green for hope, provided instant visual recognition of who was a suffragette and who supported suffrage. Unfortunately the organisations failed to work together and a new colour scheme was devised for Millicent Fawcett's NUWSS using red, green and white. The banners, posters and badges which incorporated purple and green remain the combintion most widely recognised and associated with the Suffrage movement today.


A forgotten suffrage group is the Women’s Freedom League (WFL). This group formed in 1907 as a break-away group of the WSPU. They were protesting at the organisation’s undemocratic leadership. Although the WFL was a militant organisation, it was non-violent and opposed the WSPU’s campaign of arson and vandalism. The WFL’s colours were white, yellow and green and its motto ‘Dare to be Free’. The colour yellow echoed the gold  used in the American suffrage organisation's banners.

Instructions NUWSS procession June 1908

Read about Suffrage banners

Portrait badge of Emmeline Pankhurst, c.1909 – Sold in large numbers by the WSPU to raise funds for its cause – Museum of London

Women's Suffrage Jewellery Inspired by 'New Dawn'

Sally designed and made a collection of women's suffrage jewellery for he Houses of Parliament and House of Lords shops in 2016 inspired by and to accompany the launch of Mary Branson's New Dawn Light sculpture. The sculpture was commissioned by The Houses of Parliament to celebrate women's suffrage and is on permanent display in Westminster Hall The sculpture uses all of the colours of the suffragette organisations and the glass disks depict the end of the scrolls which the Representation Act, which gave some women the right to vote, is written on.

 Shop the 'New Dawn' women's suffrage jewellery collection now


Mary Branson's 'New Dawn' light sculpture at Westminster Hall.


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