The Suffragette Movement

Yesterday marked a very special one in history: it was 100 years since some women in Britain were given the right to vote.

Up until the 1918 Representation of the People Act, women could not vote at all. Some men were entitled to vote, though not a majority, like we see today. But women’s access to the vote was completely withheld until 1918. When the bill was passed by Parliament, women over the age of 30 who owned a specific amount of property or were married to a man were given the right to vote.

The number of women over 30 who possessed their own land was minimal. Women could not have their own property and it was historically men who owned property, so fathers would leave land to their sons and this continued for many years. So the right to vote was still heavily restricted for women, but this 100-year anniversary marks an important step in the fight for equality.

The right to vote was partially won one hundred years ago and we should remember it. After all, so many women gave their lives for it, including Emily Wilding Davison who was killed while demonstrating at the Derby trying to stick a Suffragette rosette on the King’s horse, and so many women went through hell to achieve it, such as the many women who were beaten up by police due to government instruction and who were force fed while being political prisoners throughout the Suffragette movement.

It wasn’t until 1928 that women and men over the age of 21 were given the right to vote regardless of property rights, which made women the majority of the electorate. There was another ten years of fighting to go. And there is still fighting to be done now.

A march of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage, 1908. From left to right, Lady Frances Balfour (1858 – 1931), Millicent Fawcett (1847 – 1929), Ethel Snowden (1880 – 1951), Emily Davies (1830 – 1921) and Sophie Bryant (1850 – 1922). (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

We should think long and hard about those who sacrificed so much in the fight for basic equality because they changed their world so that ours could be better.