The enforced under-representation of any group does not only effect that group; nor does the responsibility to change that under-representation lie solely with that group. Women’s suffrage, for example, is not a ‘women’s issue’: it is everyone’s issue.
Starting earlier this month and continuing throughout this year a milestone in British politics is being celebrated - and it is important to remember that is a milestone not only in one nation or for one gender but it is part of a wider, global journey that has wriggled back and forth many times - slowly but surely onwards.
On the 6th February 1918, the Representation of the People Act was passed in the UK granting the vote to women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification. The same Act gave the vote to all men over the age of 21. These were both part of a long, winding journey, pushed forward with parliamentary petitions, protests, marches, acts of immense bravery, daring and courage - and forced back by hypocrisy, condescension, violence, torture, lies, ignorance and arrogance. A useful timeline can be found here but for details I can highly recommend Suffragette: My Own Story, Emmeline Pankhurst's autobiography.
A timeline of similar journeys around the world can be found here.
As we contemplate 100 years since some women and some more men gained the right to vote in the UK, there are many ways to learn more - Channel 4 are supporting the #Vote100 campaign and there are many programmes and articles from the BBC available.
|The Pankhurst Centre, Manchester|
Being in that building, where it all began, sends shivers down your spine. To think you are standing in a room that Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia themselves once stood in - it's hard to put it into words. So go!
And to all those who are doubtful that there is more to be done, here is a TED talk. Vote Sandi & Co.!
|The Women's Equality Party send a centenary message to Westminster.|