100 years of votes for women


Today is 100 years since the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave some women and all men the vote for the first time. It gave the rights of democracy to 8.5 million women, raising the electorate from 8 to 21 million people.

The Representation of the People Act 1918 was a vital step towards enabling women to have a say in the way our country is governed. Ten years later the Equal Franchise Act 1928 gave women the vote on the same terms as men. Together these are two of the most important milestones in British democratic history.

But there is still a long way to go. That’s why to mark the 100th anniversary Labour have launched a year-long campaign that will celebrate the great achievements of the women suffrage movement and look at how we can take the next steps to achieve full equality for women.

In a broom cupboard under the Palace of Westminster is a plaque to the Suffragette, Emily Wilding Davison, who hid there on the night of the 1911 Census. Two years later, Emily died from injuries received when she was trampled when she ran towards the Kings horse at the Derby, to highlight the injustice of women being denied the vote. Placed in the broom cupboard by the late Tony Benn, the plaque tells the story of Emily and concludes that “by such means was democracy won for the people of Britain”.

Hidden away it may be, but the plaque in the broom cupboard is one of the most inspiring places in Parliament.

Throughout this year Parliament will been running campaigns and events across the country to celebrate 100 years of women votes. You can find out more about Vote 100 events here https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/vote-100/


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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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