Celebrating the 100 Years of the Women's Vote
Today, the 6th February marks 100 years since (some) women across the UK gained the right to vote.
Although today inequality of the sexes is still rife across the world it can be difficult to believe that only 100 years ago, women across the UK were not allowed to vote. And so, the 6th February 1918 marks the beginning of a seismic change across the world and it deserves to be celebrated.
A little background…
On the 6th February 1918, the Representation of the People Act was finalised giving women the right to vote. However, this only included women over the age of 30 if they were a member of or married to a member of the government, a graduate, or were ‘of property’. The act also enabled voting in men over the age of 21.
Although this was a momentous occasion, it’s bizarre to think that had I been around then, I wouldn’t have been able to vote, a privilege I don’t think twice about today.
In the UK women were now almost half of the electorate, accounting for 43%. And the age 30 was given as a guide line as otherwise, in post WW1 Britain, the female vote would have been the majority.
Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the most notable people of the 20t century. As the founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union she was a key figure in leading the Suffragette movement.
Although the women’s right movement had been evolving from the late nineteenth century it didn’t truly gain prominence and become militant until the formation of the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903 and it was these women who coined the term ‘suffragettes’. The movement gained momentum and became increasingly violent as women fought for the right to vote. Emmeline, her daughters and other members of the Union were arrested. This radical form of protest lasted right up until around 1914 when the first world war broke out.
Emmeline passed away in June 1928, just in time to see women gain equal voting right to men.
6th February 1918- The Representation of the People Act is passed
21st November 1918- The Parliament Act is passed, allowing women to stand in Parliament
14th December 1918- Women vote for the first time in a general election
1928- Women over 21 can vote
Keep an eye out for more articles celebrating the women’s right to vote this week at Her Campus Leeds.
By Kelan Mahon