Commemorating 100 Years of Women’s Right to Vote in the UK: Power and Politics

right to vote for women 1918

Women in Britain were first allowed to vote in 1918, but their celebrations went mute because World War I was still raging. Other hard fights that women have endured include equal pay to men, maternity leave, and domestic violence regulation.

2018 marked 100 years of women’s right to vote in the UK, and the British Council commemorated the event by highlighting the major advances attributed to women empowerment and political participation. Women’s contribution to politics in the UK is beyond parliament and covers different facets of life.

Findings and recommendations

The findings featured information collected from participants who shared their views on the challenges that affect women’s progress. These were categorised as follows:

  •    An evolving world
  •    The laws of the land
  •    Political workplaces
  •    Sisterhood and activism

The data used to obtain the results dates back to 1918. The participants were asked to air their opinions on what should be done for real change to happen by 2028, first within the UK and then the rest of the world. The views were varied and rich, but the agreement was that action must be taken for any gains to be observed.  

Online awareness and conversation were generated when people were asked to join in with the hashtag #WomenPowerPolitics.

What this means to women in politics

1)    Theresa May – The UK Prime Minister first voted in 1974 when she was attending university and had just turned 18 years old. She believes voting is the only way to choose the people who run the country.

2)    Diane Abbott – She first voted in 1982 and a decade later, she was an observer at South Africa’s first general election after the country gained independence. When Abbott was an MP in the UK in 1987, men used to shout down women when they tried to speak in parliament, but that is prohibited now.

3)    Rushanara Ali – Born in Bangladesh, this MP has always seen the UK parliament as a democratic symbol of hope. She witnessed a military coup in her birth country, and now she knows the importance of fighting for human rights, especially for women and children.

4)    Emily Thornberry – The outspoken politician admits that their generation has left the younger generation to deal with the effects of global warming, which has left numerous beautiful species under the brink of extinction. According to her, it’s only through voting that the younger generation can take power and eliminate the inter-generational injustice.

5)    Shirley Williams – When she was first elected as an MP in 1964, there were only 29 women in parliament in the UK. Men often belittled female MPs by calling them pet names or patting them on the head after they made a speech. Shirley first voted in 1950, the legal age for women to vote was 21 years during this period.

6)    Catherine Mayer – This politician and writer says voting is a duty of every citizen and an important democratic right. As a co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, Catherine admits that the political space is harder on women, but the more reason they should get involved. When women are involved in politics in the United Kingdom, they understand the obstacles, sacrifices their predecessors made, and value achievements.


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