2018 marks 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed women over the age of 30 who met minimum requirements to vote for the first time. About 8.4 million women gained the right to vote – those who were householders, wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5, and graduates of British universities. The first election in which these women were allowed to vote was held on 14th December 1918. Prior to this, only a small number of women were allowed to vote. Also that year, in November 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into the House of Commons.
Women were then given equal voting rights to men (over 21 years of age) in 1928. In 1969 the age limit for voting was lowered from 21 to 18 and a debate continues today calling it to be lowered to 16 years of age.
We have celebrated this milestone by getting involved with Vote 100. Lots of exciting activities have taken place across the UK, including a major exhibition, talks and tours. Follow #Vote100 on Twitter for further information.
To find out more about the suffrage campaign and history of women in politics, visit parliament.uk/get-involved/vote100
What was on in 2018?
In Devon, community activities were organised by a number of groups including Fawcett Devon, Dreadnought SW and WOW (Women of the World Exeter). There was a Votes for Women? exhibition at Killerton House, and many other exhibitions in museums around the county.
You could follow the Suffrage Flag on its relay around the UK. It arrived in Devon on Tuesday 3rd April and was welcomed by the NHS, Environment Agency, Met Office and Exeter City Council. Its visit to Exeter included an event at the University on Thursday 5th April before being passed on to Devon County Council on the Friday. Devon County Council then passed it on to Government agencies in Plymouth #SuffrageFlagRelay.
Photography exhibition – The Candidates by Jessica Lennan. The Candidates is a series of portraits of women who stood as candidates in the 2017 Devon County Council election and the General Election for constituencies in Devon. It opened at the Dodo Gallery, Exeter in March. The exhibition will then tour Devon. Contact Fawcett Devon if you would like to host it.
Devon County Council activities:
Read our article about our first woman County Councillor, Juanita Maxwell Phillips.
Friday 6th April – Devon County Council welcomed the Suffrage Flag to County Hall. This followed with a talk about Juanita Maxwell Philipps.
Friday 14th December – an exciting exhibition and events took place to mark 100 years since qualifying women over the age of 30 were able to cast their first vote. This included an exhibition in the ante-chamber, a youth takeover and conference with a difference on women in public service.