As International Women’s Day Approaches
2018 marks the centenary of a section of the women in Britain gaining the vote. After a lengthy struggle and widespread political movement for women’s emancipation, on February 6, 1918, Parliament passed the Representation of People Act 1918, which gave women over the age of 30, who occupied a house (or were married to someone who did), the right to vote. At the time, this enabled 8.5 million women to vote for members of Parliament, about two in every five women in the UK, whilst at the same time allowing for men over the age of 21 to vote. Even recognising the disparity with men in terms of the voting age, this Act represented an advance for women at the time, empowering women over the age of thirty to participate in the polity alongside men, and represented a victory for women at the time who were fighting the patriarchal nature of society that denied them a vote and a say in society.
A hundred years on, the issue poses itself differently, and the greatest problem facing women today, as individuals and as a collective in society, is one of marginalisation. Indeed, the burning issue of our times is that of the necessity for the affirmation of women and for a modern definition of rights as key to the renovation and modernisation of society.