NEWS

100 Years Ago, British Women Got The Right To Vote, Thus Changing The Country's History

Date February 8, 2018

On February 6, the United Kingdom celebrates 100 years since some British women first got the right to vote after an extremely intense struggle. Although it was a fringe campaign, it helped pave the way for a suffragist movement and change the world.

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Changing the history

In 1918, the UK government adopted the Representation of the People Act that allowed women over 30 to cast a ballot. But actually, not all of them could do that. The law applied only to those females who were married to men with land or owned property themselves. Although women didn’t get the same rights, it was still a major step.

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These limitations prompted a number of female suffrage campaigners to demonstrate for equal voting rights. The suffragists stood out for militant actions and campaigned using peaceful tactics. Some of them led demonstrations, while more radical ones chained themselves to railings, executed hunger strikes, broke shop windows, and carried out arson.

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Ten years later, in 1928, British women were finally guaranteed equal voting rights, increasing the number of eligible female voters twice.

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What about other parts of the world?

Yes, the suffragettes attracted much publicity, but Great Britain was not a pioneer. In fact, New Zealand was the first country to empower women back in 1893, followed by Australia in 1902 (though the Australian law excluded indigenous population) and Finland in 1906.

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More than two dozen countries granted voting rights to females in the period between the two World Wars, including Austria, Germany, the United States, and many more.

Other countries lagged behind, with Switzerland excluding women until 1971! However, it was not the last nation to make changes as some Gulf States still restrict the rights of both men and women.

Why it matters today?

Unfortunately, after 100 years of female suffrage in the United Kingdom, female politicians are still a minority. Although there were more than 200 female lawmakers who were elected in 2017, they still make up only a bit more than 30%. However, this result is better than, let’s say, in the United States, where women make up less than 20% lawmakers. And there are still protests led all over the globe.

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Surprisingly, Rwanda currently leads the world, with more than 61% females in parliament. Maybe, this is what we should aspire to achieve after combating sexual harassment problem?

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