Centenary of women's voting
This year marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed on 6 February, giving some women the right to vote for the first time.
This marked a turning point in British history. Women had previously been prevented from participating in democracy in any meaningful way – the complexities of politics were either considered irrelevant to women or beyond their comprehension, so decision making was limited to the realm of men. Hard to believe, right?
Of course, many women of the time also objected to this blatant discrimination and committed their lives to the fight for electoral equality.
The Electoral Commission has called for action to be taken to break down barriers to voting that still remain for some women. Claire Bassett, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission, said:
“The centenary of women’s suffrage reminds us all what our vote means and how hard women before us fought for it. However, there is still more to do because barriers to voting still remain.
“100 years on, it’s time to champion 100% of women being able to exercise their right freely without barriers. Voting is a right every women, no matter their circumstances, should have – in the next century we need to make this a reality.”
The Government has launched its Suffrage Centenary Programme website which celebrates the Votes for Women movement reflected in their modern democracy by the #votesandvoices campaign.
The National Archives has also published a National Archives Women’s Suffrage hub where you can find more information about this movement.
Democracy Exhibition at the National Civil War Centre
An exhibition Shaking the Foundations: The Quest for Democracy is open at the National Civil War Centre from 29 March 2018, which travels through the democracy timeline to the modern day.
Exhibition at Southwell Workhouse
An exhibition Struggle for Suffrage: Workhouse Women and the Vote is now open at Southwell Workhouse, where you can experience the stories of local women connected to The Workhouse – both suffragists and those who fought to have their voices heard.