Friday, 14 July 2017

100 years since women gained the Westminster vote

Commemorating 100 years since women gained the vote at Westminster:

Vote 100: Parliament celebrates 100 years of the vote in 2018

On 14 July, the 159th anniversary of Emmeline Pankhurst’s birthday, with the suffragette flag flying over Portcullis House, the Houses of Parliament officially launches Vote 100 – a year-long programme of events celebrating a century of women’s voices in Parliament.

2018 will see the anniversary of landmark moments in the journey towards universal suffrage and the representation of all citizens in Parliament.

Throughout the year Vote 100 will celebrate these major milestones, and the contribution of women to politics in the UK, with a series of events, exhibitions and educational programmes.

The celebrations will begin on 6 February 2018 to mark 100 years since the Representation of the People Act passed, allowing women to vote for the first time.

Nicky Morgan MP, Vote 100 Advisory Group Member, said:

“As a female MP it is a real honour to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first women in Parliament. We owe so much to the pioneering women and brave campaigners who bequeathed us our most valuable inheritance – the right to the vote. I hope women and men alike will join us in commemorating that right, and the courageous citizens who fought so hard and for so long to make it possible for women to vote.”

Baroness Maddock, Vote100 Advisory Group Member, said:

“Women have made an immeasurable contribution in both Houses of Parliament but this has only been possible because of those who broke down the barriers. Since women were allowed to sit in the House of Lords, there have been six women Leaders; three women Government Chief Whips; and the first two Lord Speakers have both been women. But work must continue to ensure the gender balance is equal. I encourage men and women across the UK to reflect on the achievements of the suffrage movement whether that’s through holding an EqualiTea or by visiting the Voice and Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament exhibition. ”

Other anniversaries in 2018 include:

100 years since women first had the right to stand as an MP
100 years since the 1918 election, the first where all men over 21 and some women over 30 had the vote
100 years since the election of the first female MP
90 years since women first had the same electoral rights as men
60 years since the creation of life peerages allowing women to sit in the House of Lords

As part of Vote 100 Westminster Hall, the oldest part of Parliament, will host a major summer exhibition “Voice and Vote. Women’s Place in Parliament”. It will immerse visitors in women’s experiences of Parliament from the 18th century to the present day, through sound, image and text. The exhibition will examine the 72 year campaign for the vote as well as the experiences of Nancy Astor MP and Baroness Wootton of Abinger, who were the first women to sit in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, in addition to the more than four hundred woman who serve as Parliamentarians today.

In a partnership with Royal Holloway University, Parliament will also launch a ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC) on women, Parliament and the vote, which will tell the story of the campaign for women’s suffrage in detail.

To mark the anniversary of the 1928 Representation of the People Act, in which all citizens were given the right to vote on an equal basis, tea parties will take place across the UK between 30 June and 2 July 2018. EqualiTeas will be an opportunity to get individuals and communities together to share, debate and celebrate their right to vote, over a cup of tea and slice of cake!

Anniversaries in 2018

February 6: Representation of the People Act (1918)
All men over 21 and women over 30 received the vote if they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner or a graduate voting in a University constituency.

April 30: Life Peerages Act (1958)
Allowed the creation of life peers, including women. Women were able to sit in the House of Lords for the first time.

July 2: Equal Franchise Act (1928)
Gave women the same access to the vote as men.

November 21: Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act (1918)
Gave women over 21 the right to stand for election as an MP.

December 14: 1918 General Election
Some women over 30 and all men could vote in a General Election for the first time. The first female MP was elected.

Overview of key events and activities

Voice and Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament
A landmark exhibition in Westminster covering women’s attempts to influence Parliament, the campaign for votes for women, and the representation of women in the Commons and the Lords.

A festival of events that aim to share, debate and celebrate democratic equalities on the anniversary of men and women first receiving equal access to the franchise.

Women, Parliament and the Vote
Developed in partnership with Royal Holloway University, Parliament will launch a ‘massive online open course’ which will tell the story of women’s campaign for the vote.

UK Parliament Week 2018
Vote 100 will be an important element of UK Parliament Week 2018, and partners will be encouraged to reflect upon it when planning events for the annual festival that engages people from across the UK, explores what Parliament means and empowers them to get involved.

Your Story, Our History
Building on our successful Your Story, Our History series, a range of new films will show how people’s lives have been impacted positively by increased representation at Parliament.

Talks and Tours
Throughout the year we will run a programme of themed events, tours and talks that explore the journey to universal suffrage and women in Parliament today. Our programme will include activities for adults and families visiting with children.

“People’s Parliament”
The “People’s Parliament” workshops for visiting schools give students from 7--18 an opportunity to immerse themselves in a re-enactment of the 1908 Women's Freedom League protest in the House of Commons, stimulating consideration of public intervention, campaigning and pressure groups. This workshop will be available for booking from September 2017. Further announcements of special educational events may be forthcoming. School groups can also visit and search under ‘suffragettes’ for related learning.

Further information about the programme is available at To keep up to date with events and get regular updates follow the hashtag #Vote100.

(With thanks to Maev Mac Coille, House of Commons Communications Office; image description: ‘The disgraceful scene in the House’, Daily Graphic, 1906
Copyright Notice: © Parliamentary Art Collection WOA Ref. Coll.)


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