Today marks 100 years since women (over the age of 30) won the right to vote following the Representation of the People Act which, as you know, was no mean feat. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU Emmeline Pankhurst, Millicent Fawcett, Annie Kennedy, Leonora Cohen et al.
It is for this reason that we are paying respect to our fearless foremothers by sharing the words and wishes of some of the women within our network today; namely, what the centenary year means to them both personally and professionally, and what now? What for 2018 and next 100 years?
Today is a momentous deal, let’s celebrate that and be active in driving continued change.
Emma France, Global Development & Strategic Engagement Director mothers2mothers
The power of women as a collective (innovatively and disruptively if need be) creates change, if women stand up together shoulder to shoulder change happens. I think the centenary is very sobering – not enough has changed for our sisters and daughters and not quickly enough.
We haven’t come far enough globally – women may be able to vote but they are not free to be educated and start having families or stop having families or choose when to have sex or when not to have sex and whether that sex is consensual. We need to raise daughters in a world where no decisions for women are made without women. We need to capacitate girls as changemakers and help them grow and connect globally; fundamentally they need to be able to exercise their rights at the ballot box to elect people who can represent them and their needs and grow them to be the decision makers.
Natalie Campbell, Entrepreneur, Author, Co-founder of radio show and podcast Badass Women’s Hour
It’s a reminder that some women got the vote, not all. In 1918 a woman like me probably knew life as a slave and though free was still treated as such. A start is good but it’s never enough so it’s an opportunity for women to work on coming together to fight for those without a voice or struggling to be heard. A lot has changed in the last 100 years but things are also the same or worse too so we need to propel the message that women (all women) are equal, badass and brilliant and deserve to be treated as such – now, more than ever.
More women leading in business, politics, science, technology, the arts and culture (and everything else) but also standing with, opening the door for, or championing disabled women, women of colour, women from lower socio-economic groups and transwomen. When these women feel like other women – at least 50% of society – have their back then we’ve moved forward.
Hilary Alexander, Journalist and Graduate Fashion Week trustee
I feel admiration for what original Suffragettes achieved in the face of violence, indifference and contempt – and sadness that so many take it for granted.
This year I’d like to see a woman president of the USA and equal pay based on merit not gender. 100 years from now? No wars because women have control.
Molly Gunn, Curator of Goodness Selfish Mother & The Fmly Store
The centenary year probably means more than I’ve even allowed myself to think about. It seems completely bonkers to me that it’s only been 100 years to be honest as I’ve felt so empowered growing up knowing I can vote and work and achieve what I wish to. For that I feel deeply grateful to ALL WOMEN (and men!) who fought for equality and female voting rights.
It is my wish that this is achieved globally; it is so unfair that women in some countries are still fighting for this.
Tamara Cincik, Founder and CEO – Fashion Roundtable
We have come far, but we have miles of road still to travel. Girls now do better in schools, at universities and in their careers, until they have children – when the concrete wall of gender inequality hits them like a life-defining punch. Childcare costs are an average of £60 a day, with no real government provision until a child is 3-years-old, despite studies by IPPR and other bodies which showcase that free childcare would be cost neutral so women could then choose to go back to work whether well paid or not, and generate revenue and taxes back into the economy. A woman who has children will statistically not make the same as a male counterpart who also has children, nor will she regain the earning potential she would have if she did not have children. This is not acceptable.
Women need to be valued more. The end of Legal Aid for most victims of domestic violence and the closure of many women’s aid centers under austerity highlight the systemic gender inequality at the heart of much political policy. This is not acceptable.
We need to honour our mothers, our sisters and our suffragette ancestors, who stood up and made deeds not words the heart of their activism. We need to address why women are not yet equal and collaborate, work together and support each other’s work and create a forceful narrative for why not only is gender inequality unacceptable, it is both ethically immoral as well as economically shortsighted.
Feminism needs to be inclusive, cross cultural and not a white, elitist voice of middle class constructs. Intersectionality is needed within the women’s movement to support our sisters from all backgrounds and social stratas, we can then better understand the needs across all communities and represent all our voices.
Within the next 100 years, we will see more gender fluidity, we will see more of the gender constructs of empathy for women and toughness for men, being deconstructed as viable and worthy for all genders. We will see an openness to the potential of all backgrounds and an end to sex trafficking and violence against women as a norm or war, or domestic violence. We will see a female president and a Labour female leader and we won’t have their shoes or their childbearing, brought into the conversation.
That would be acceptable.
Emma Hart, Founder & Creative Director Push PR
For me this anniversary means progress and staying power. The right to vote wasn’t granted and then taken away like so many rights are, the right has remained. As it should.
Society runs the risk of driving specific pockets of powerful liberated and empowered women which is not global. We need to look at equality as an entirety and recognise that we have come so far but there are still areas which need significant work. Let’s not be blind to the real challenges that women and girls will still face.
Harriet Minter, Journalist and Co-founder of radio show and podcast Badass Women’s Hour
Today is a reminder of how long and short 100 years is. It can be easy to take our current rights and privileges for granted and forget that in the history of humanity we’ve only had them a very short time, however it’s also lovely to be able to look back and see how much can be accomplished in that time. Sometimes equality feels like pushing a very heavy rock up a very steep hill, so this is a reminder that once we get it rolling then the momentum can drive huge change.
I second the need to look at this is a global problem. People tell me all the time that feminism is no longer necessary because we have equality but on a local level we still don’t and on a global level we definitely don’t. We need to use our privilege and understanding of the problem to help raise awareness of areas where women still suffer or just put up with it in silence. If we could do that really effectively I don’t think anyone in the world could stop us.
Megan Lewis, Brand Manager Les 100 Ciels
This centenary year means so much; it shows what we can achieve when we come together with the same goal in our minds. When listening to stories from my grandmother and her own memories from her mother, I see just how far we have come.
That said, we still have so far to go. I feel lucky to work in the fashion industry where I’m surrounded by a team of women from all different backgrounds, who build each other up. But seeing friends who work in finance and law industries for example, battle each day against occupational segregation. This makes me ever so much more adamant that for 2018 this is something we need to continue to tackle together and to change.
100 years ago, we won the right to vote. During the next 100 years, I hope we can continue our fight to have that vote respected (which I still feel it is not). I hope for more equal compensation and representation in the work place (as well as in the home), equality in media and a stronger push back on violence against women. Alongside this, recognising our responsibility as women to equally fight against toxic masculine ideals forced on to young boys. Furthermore, in the next years I hope to see women from other countries win their right to vote too!