Significance of women’s suffrage in 1918 goes beyond voting

There is much more to celebrate in 2018 than ‘just’ the centenary of ‘some’ women in the UK getting the parliamentary vote, says social historian Dr Anne Logan.

She comments: ‘Since the start of this year there have been murmurings that the celebration of a centenary of women’s suffrage is premature. On social media and in the media it has been pointed out that not all women (over 21) received the parliamentary vote until 1928, and only then was there equality, in that women received the vote on the same terms as men.

‘While this is true, this sentiment is misplaced. The significance of the year 1918 for women’s citizenship goes far beyond mere voting. The women’s suffrage campaign was never ‘just’ about votes. Campaigners saw suffrage as a necessary, but not sufficient, step on the road to greater rights for women and gender equality.

‘The 1918 Representation of the People Act opened the door immediately to further legislation for women MPs, the opening up of professions to women, and – very importantly – the entry of women into law courts as jurors and magistrates. One hundred years later, the quest for gender fairness is still ongoing.’

Dr Anne Logan is a senior lecturer within the University’s School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research. She specialises in 19th and 20th century British social history with an emphasis on women’s history.

Dr Anne Logan