Today marks 100 years since women in the UK were given the right to vote.
Actually they weren’t ‘given’ this right, they had to fight for it. Women who were involved in this movement were called the suffragettes and many made tremendous sacrifices for this cause. At its peak, a suffragette named Emily Dickinson died for the cause, prompting parliament to pass the People Act of 1918 allowing women to vote.
However the Act did not grant voting rights to all women, it only allowed women over 30 years old and who were home-owners the right to vote. It was a decade later, in June 14, 1928, that ALL women over 21 years old were allowed a say in the political process.
Sadly, Emmeline Pankhurst, the founder of the suffrage movement, was not alive to witness this monumental occasion. She had died just eighteen days earlier.
Today it’s easy to take for granted this right that women a century ago fought so hard to attain. The very thought of an all male voting system seems almost mythical to my imagination. Yet, it was real once upon a time.
I am so grateful for the women (and men) who sacrificed so much so that I too can have a voice. It’s now up to us to carry that torch forward, to dismantle more barriers that are in the way of full gender equality.
Don’t rest on past triumphs; we still have work to do.
Here are some interesting links on women’s voting rights around the world:
- A timeline of women’s voting rights around the world. New Zealeand was the first country to allow women to vote (1893), Saudi Arabia is the latest country to allow women to vote (2011).
- Suffregette, the movie. My personal best quote: “All my life I’ve done what men told me. Well I can’t have that anymore.” Maude Watts
- Six amazing voting facts from around the world. The Vatican is the only country where women still can’t vote.