Published on February 15th, 2018 | by Sarah Jubb
Celebrating 100 Years Of Votes For Women
2018 marks the centenary of the 1918 Representation of The People Act which gave a certain demographic of women the right to vote for the first time in the United Kingdom. To commemorate this event, Royal Mail has released a series of stamps for Votes for Women.
With Theresa May as Prime Minister and 208 female MPs being elected during the 2017 General Election, making 32% of all MPs, it is perhaps inconceivable to imagine a time when women were not involved in politics in some form.
But it has in fact only been 100 years since women were given the vote, and even then it was only to women who met certain requirements. The 1918 Representation of The People Act enfranchised women over 30 who either held £5 of property or were married to a man who did along with all men over 21.
According to the Parliament website, this requirement was installed to prevent women from becoming the majority of the voting population. This was because 1918 marked the end of the First World War and due to the great loss of men during the war; a completely enfranchised female population would have become the majority. Put into context, even with the £5 requirement, women accounted for 43% of the electorate after the passing of the Act.
A Long Fight For Suffragists
At the forefront of the fight to get women the vote were groups of suffragists who made it their primary objective to ensure that women were allowed to vote. Although women were given the vote in 1918, the first suffragist group emerged in 1897 when campaigners from the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).
Through non-violent means the NUWSS, led by Millicent Garret Fawcett, campaigned steadfastly for voting rights through petitions and lobbying. It was only 6 years later in 1903 that Emmeline Pankhurst formed the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to begin a more militant campaign that began with heckling politicians.
Commemorate The Centenary of Votes For Women
The advent of World War One resulted in campaigns halting as they focused instead on supporting the war effort. It was through women’s efforts to pick up the jobs usually undertaken by men during the war combined with the suffragette’s movement that resulted in the vote being extended.
While women had finally gained the vote in 1918, it was only in 1928 with the passing of the Equal Franchise Act that women were finally able to vote on the same terms as men. The set of special stamps from Royal Mail each feature important moments or figures in the Suffragettes Movement, from the Welsh Suffragettes coronation procession in 1911 to Leigh and New being released from prison in 1908.
In the range includes a Presentation Pack that features plenty of rich information that outlines some of the historical events that led to the act that allowed votes for women. It’s available along with plenty of other highly collectible items in our range of Collectibles available here on the Post Office Shop.