The modern campaign to secure the right to vote for women began in the mid-19th century.
This aim was partially achieved with the Representation of the People Act 1918, which allowed some women over the age of 30 to vote in national elections.
The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act followed later the same year and allowed women to stand as Members of Parliament.
It was not until the Equal Franchise Act was passed in 1928 that women won the same voting rights as men.
Those campaigning peacefully for women’s suffrage were called suffragists. From the early 20th century some women who pursued militant methods of campaigning were known by the initially derogatory term ‘suffragettes’, a description first used by the Daily Mail in 1906.
However, the term was adopted by women themselves and became widely used.
Women’s Equality Day
Why Britain Has No Women’s Equality Day
Aug 26, 2016
by Sam Smethers
Sam Smethers is the Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, a British gender equality group, named after Millicent Fawcett, a British advocate of the right of women to vote who died in 1929.
Friday, Aug. 26, is Women’s Equality Day in the U.S. It commemorates the signing into law of the Women’s Suffrage Amendment in 1920. We don’t mark a date for women’s suffrage in the U.K. Yet there are several possible dates. On June 7, 1866, the long journey to women’s votes began with the presentation of the first petition to Parliament. Feb. 6, 1918, is the date of the first extension of suffrage to some women, and 10 years later on July 2, 1928, we see the granting of universal suffrage. So why don’t we celebrate any of these dates as a national day here?
It is a difficult question to answer, but I think part of it lies in the invisibility of women in our history even after they were finally given voting rights. We will let you vote but drawing attention to it, well, that’s a bit unseemly, isn’t it? Celebrating women’s suffrage as a national day would mean conceding that the participation of women in our democracy isn’t only about women’s rights and voices but the greater well-being and good of our society. Something we should all celebrate. As Millicent Fawcett herself said, “Justice and freedom for women are things worth securing not only for their own sakes but for civilisation itself.”