Today thousands of women marched through cities across the UK to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage. It’s wonderful to have such a widespread celebration to commend the bravery and sacrifices of the suffragettes during the many years leading up to that point, and to draw attention to women’s rights today.
But it’s important to remember that while some women were given the vote 100 years ago, it’s only ninety years since women gained suffrage equality. The Representation of the People Act 1918 gave the vote to women over 30 who owned property, but it also extended male suffrage to all men over 21, thus contrary to popular belief this act was arguably another marker of inequality. The “representation of the people” was still tilted at 5:2 in favour of men. It wasn’t until 1928 that voting equality was established and the vote was given to all women over 21.
This is an appropriate parallel to today’s thinking. While it’s good to celebrate victories and steps forward, it’s important to not get complacent and settle into inequality because it’s less ‘inequal’ than before. The difference between female and male lives is still huge and we have a long way to go to rectify this.
Thank you Suffragettes, we carry your baton on.