Today marks 101 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act 1918, which extended the franchise to men over 21 and allowed the first women to vote. It wasn’t until 1928 that women would get electoral equality with men, being entitled to vote at age 21, regardless of whether they owned property. December 14th 1918 marked the first election where women were entitled to vote.
101 years later, we have our second female Prime Minister and 209 female Members of Parliament currently in the House of Commons. In the Conservative Party, women account for only 21% of MPs. We’re lightyears ahead of where we were before 2010, but we’ve still got a mountain to climb. According to 50:50 Parliament, if we continue at the current rate, it would take another fifty years to achieve equal representation in Parliament. The party’s announcement in August 2018 of plans to achieve 50:50 representation on the candidates list is a welcome one and is a step towards increasing female participation across the party.
Speaking during last year’s Vote100 celebrations, Theresa May paid homage to the suffragettes who “fought to establish their rights – my right, every woman’s right – to vote in elections, to stand for office and to take their full and rightful place in public life, did so in the face of fierce opposition. They preserved in spite of all danger and discouragement, because they knew their cause was right. Eventually, through a free and open encounter with the opposing view, the truth of their argument won the day and we are all in their debt”.”