Today is the centenary of the first granting of votes to British women. I hope this week everyone finds the time to reflect, even if just for 30 seconds, on 100 years of women’s suffrage. There have been many great articles written and this centenary is an important reminder of our shared history.
As the newly appointed PPC candidate for Labour in Gloucester I feel incredibly privileged to be one of so few women (relative to men) that have the opportunity to run for Parliament in this country. I feel like I stand on the shoulders of some magnificent giants.
It’s significant that it’s 100 years since partial women’s suffrage. but it is important to remember it is only partial. The vote was granted only to women over 30 who owned property or were married to a man who could vote, which was just 40% of women. Full women’s suffrage was only 90 years ago – so the real anniversary is yet to come. Today, women are just as likely to turn out to vote as men – but crucially women, especially younger women, are now voting Labour in greater numbers than men. At the last election women under 55 were more likely, by some way, to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.
What makes me particularly excited about the next general election is the possibility of a Labour government that is not only socialist but also feminist. We are still riding on the 4th wave of feminism, and that is unearthing a lot of things many people would prefer to keep shut in a box: sexual harassment, rape culture, and the #metoo campaign to name a few. The struggle for equality is hard and difficult, but totally necessary. We still have a long way to go and women’s voices in politics are still not where we need them to be – many women are being left out especially BAME women, trans women, women in prisons and more.
As a 32-year old I feel embedded in a generation (I think I am just about a millennial) that is not going to keep quiet on these issues. We need to stand in solidarity together and be honest about what is happening, but also about what has happened to women in the past and how the struggles continue.