Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Sheffield marks 100 years of women's right to vote

A statue of Emmeline Pankhurst one of the founders of the British Suffragette Movement outside the Houses of Parliament in London. AFP PIC A statue of Emmeline Pankhurst one of the founders of the British Suffragette Movement outside the Houses of Parliament in London. AFP PIC
| 08 February, 2018, 01:00

THE graphic poster of a prison inmate, a mentally-ill patient and a well-dressed woman in a locked cage desperate to get out could not be more to the point. According to her autobiography Nichelle Nichols (Lt Uhura in Star Trek) was told by Martin Luther King "she couldn't leave [the show] because she was a role model for millions of young girls and women - the only African-American on TV in a role worth having".

Emmeline Pankhurst was one of the founder members of the Woman's Social and Political Union.

There is also an original women's voting registration form relating to the 1918 General Election. A bundle of these posters, delivered to Cambridge, survived to be rediscovered 106 years later in 2016.

The government gave some women over 30 the right to vote on February 6, 1918, with equal voting rights to men granted 10 years later, after Pankhurst's death.

As announced in their famous motto "Deeds not words", the Suffragettes were a militant alternative to groups seeking the right to vote for women through peaceful means such as lobbying.

The Representation of the People Act was passed on February 6th, 1918. Thanks to the tireless work of women's suffrage movements there was also the feeling that women should be rewarded for their own wartime efforts.

Women fighting for their right to vote who were jailed should be pardoned, say campaigners. Sinn Fein's Constance Markievicz won a seat in Ireland (then still part of the UK) but as a republican, refused to sit at Westminster. It was left to Viscountess Nancy Astor to be the first woman to take her seat in parliament in December 1919 following a by-election victory.

From separation in 1922, the Irish Free State gave equal voting rights to men and women. Abbott described her experience in The Guardian a year ago: "The Times had marked my selection by complaining about my 'rhetoric of class struggle and skin-colour consciousness.' Judging by the wariness with which I was treated when I entered the House of Commons, many MPs agreed with the Times". Finland granted women the right to vote in 1906 and Norway in 1913. They had to fight and get it for themselves.


Before the 1918 Representation of the People Act, only 58% of the adult male population was eligible to vote. Gender segregation of the labour market, coupled with women's care burden, continue to result in unequal outcomes and reproduce gender inequalities, despite the good will of governments. Due to the large numbers of men who died in the First World War women assumed around a 43 per cent stake in the electorate.

If our representative democracy is hostile to marginalised women within Parliament's walls, it also makes its limits known at the ballot box.

Sharon added: "The event was a one-off event, but it has gone so well we may look at applying for funding to host a bigger event later in the year".

Recipients will include the Glasgow Women's Library.

Prime Minister Theresa May at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 25, 2018.

Some Muslim majority countries, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia, established universal suffrage upon national independence.

This Pacific nation is widely recognised as the first "self-governing" country to extend the franchise to women. Mr. Corbyn also criticized the relative lack of female members of Parliament as well as the gender-pay gap as forms of modern continuing discrimination against women in British society.

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