Britain reflects on equality 100 years on from landmark legislation
The 100th anniversary of a change in the law which allowed a section of British women to vote for the first time has led to renewed debate about the shape of modern-day equality laws.
It was 6 February 1918 that Parliament passed laws which meant that women over the age of 30 – who met certain property requirements – could cast their ballot papers.
While the reforms meant that more than half of females were still disenfranchised – universal suffrage would not be implemented for almost another ten years – the date was nonetheless a significant milestone for women’s rights.
To mark the centenary, a number of politicians and public figures have spoken about what they see as priorities today.
Campaigners point to a persistent gender pay gap and recent concerns about whether enough is being done to clamp down on sexual harassment and discrimination at work and elsewhere.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “100 years later, the struggle for equality continues.
“There are still too few women in Parliament, women still do not receive equal pay for equal work and many face discrimination in the workplace and in everyday life.”
The Fawcett Society, a campaign group named after the prominent women’s suffrage campaigner Millicent Fawcett, announced it was launching a #TimesUp campaign to fight discrimination.
The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, has published the results of a wide-reaching survey, which the newspaper said exposed the continuing inequalities in the UK today.
The study of 42,000 women found that fewer than one in five thought the sexes were treated equally and a significant proportion felt they had been discriminated against at work.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said: “The pace of change is glacial, and 100 years after the first women got the vote we’re still in a position where we can’t actually use that vote to change our lives.
“Women are paid less than men, women experience violence at the hands of men at epidemic levels. As women we see our bodies objectified daily, and we take on the burden of childcare and care for relatives. Our daughters’ mental health is also suffering under pressure to be perfect.”