Tuesday, 6 February 2018

our daughters’ daughters will adore us

Today marks the centenary of some women in the United Kingdom securing the right to vote in the United Kingdom. As with most European nations, suffrage came as World War I was reaching its conclusion and during the inter war years that followed and marked a significant turning point but not the culmination of a decades’ long struggle for equal voice and representation.
After having expanded the vote to all males without qualification due to manpower shortages during the war-effort—occupational credentials having hitherto been a voting requirement for the unlanded, parliamentarians realised that they could not maintain the fiction that women, who were also stepping up to fulfil vital positions in industry and research, were incapable of political engagement. Negotiations ensued and the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed that provided women who were married to householders or were heads-of-household in their own right, occupiers of property with an annual rent of at least five pounds sterling, graduates of a British university and over the age of thirty (for men, it was twenty-one) could vote. Momentum continued (though not without backbiting and periods of regression) and in November of the same year, an act was passed allowing women, twenty-one years and older, to stand for parliamentary elections and be elevated from within to ministerial positions. A decade later, the Equal Franchise Act made all terms and conditions the same.