Women of the World

5th Feb 2018 – Tomorrow marks one hundred years since a major landmark in the history of our democracy – the first time some women in the UK had the right to vote.

The Loreto College Women of the World group is encouraging all Loreto pupils to recognise and celebrate the significance of this event.

Leading suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett is set to become the first woman celebrated with a statue in Parliament Square standing proudly amongst 11 other statues honouring men.

The Suffrage movement saw women organise and campaign for their voice to be heard from the mid-1860s. Attitudes towards women at the time meant that many men thought that women were the ‘weaker sex’ without the same intellectual capacity as men.

The suffrage movement and the wartime role of women resulted in the Representation of the People Act 1918. It gave the right to vote to around 8.5 million women who were previously not allowed to vote. To qualify, they had to be aged over 30 years old and own property. It also gave the vote to 5.6 million more men after their voting age was lowered to 21.

The general election in December 1918 had an electorate three times the size of the one before it.

A year later, in 1919, Nancy Astor become the first woman MP to take her seat in the British Parliament, a position she held from 1919 to 1945.

Although it would be another decade before ALL women aged over 21 would receive the right to vote, 1918 was the year the UK set itself on the path to equality.

Yet 100 years later, the journey is still far from complete. Men and women share the same voting rights but just 32% of MPs and 33% of councillors are women. All six elected Metro Mayors are men, and just 12% of Combined Authority representatives are women. We still have some way to go to having a political system that fully represents its people.

You can find out about national events taking place throughout the year here:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2018/jan/31/centenary-votes-for-women-anniversary-events-parades-exhibitions-suffragette-pankhurst