British PM leads tributes on centenary of women's vote

British PM leads tributes on centenary of women's vote

Today we're celebrating a monumental anniversary: 100 years since women were given the right to vote in the UK.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality and women's rights, says it's "surprising and disappointing" that some of the discussions being had 100 years ago are still relevant now.

Singh joined the movement for suffrage in 1909 and led a march to parliament with Emmeline Pankhurst on November 18, 1910, which became known as 'Black Friday' due to the violent actions of the police which resulted in the death of one suffragette, Ellen Pitfield. It also gave the right to vote to all men over 21.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that if they gain power, Labour will pardon all suffragettes who were convicted or jailed while fighting for women's right to vote.

By 1900, many MPs were coming around to the suffragists' way of thinking, and several bills in favour of women's suffrage were very well supported, though not passed.

For decades after the suffragette movement, the number of women in parliament stood at around 3%.

The UK Home Secretary has explained the complexity of granting pardons to imprisoned females who were demanding a vote right.

It was awarded by the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the leading militant organisation campaigning for Women's suffrage at the time, and is tied to a green, white and purple ribbon (representing hope, purity and dignity), which were the colours of the organisation.

She noted major advances in the rights of women and other minorities since 1918, but warned of a new tone of "bitterness and agression" in public debate.

Britain came relatively late to women's suffrage.

Apart from voting to advance women's rights today the emergency is to use our vote for Peace and Nonviolence, against nuclear weapons, against inequality, for disarmament and for investment in clean energies, both because of climate change and because of health.

"They thought it would cause dissension in the home if a man wanted to vote conservative and his wife liberal", she says.

"Thanks to the activism of the suffragettes, the franchise was extended to some women in 1918, and to all women over the age of 21 ten years later". Yet while the suffragettes were inarguably more physical in their demonstrations, they were not using tactics the country had not seen before. In Pakistan, the 1956 constitution included "the principle of complete suffrage for designated women's seats in government".

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

But Emmeline Pankhurst, who was then a member of the NUWSS, chose to employ more direct and militant tactics, leading her to set up the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906 with her two daughters, Sylvia and Christabel.

This empowered roughly 8.5 million women, which may sound quite a lot, but it still only amounted to around 40 per cent of Britain's female population at the time.

The assumption was - as it had always been - that their husbands would take any political responsibility, so there was simply no need for women to be politically engaged and vote.

She was a famous Suffragette who threw herself in front of the King's horse on Epsom Derby Day on 4 June 2013.



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