I usually get out my soap box on International Women’s Day (8 March), but this year I could not let the centenary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act pass without comment. It enfranchised some women (those over 30) and allowed women over the age of 21 to stand for parliament, but it was to be another 10 years before women were given electoral parity with men.
I am one of the many women who benefitted from the determination of the suffragists and suffragettes not to be silenced and not to give up until their demands for equality were met. These are the women who enabled us to dream, to aspire to fulfil our potential as people and not exist only as decorative objects or chattels.
We may have changed the legislation, but 48 years after the Equal Pay Act we are still fighting for equal pay and opportunities. The vote gave us the power to instigate change, but it did not give us the ability to change society, this may take longer. Therefore, it remains vital that we participate in democracy and demand to be heard and listed too. It is not just for us, but for future generations, that we accept nothing less than equality for everyone irrespective of gender, ethnic origins, religion or sexual orientation. Be inspired by the women who are prepared to be imprisoned for refusing to wear a headscarf and remember and celebrate the sacrifices made by the women who fought to give us the vote.