100 YEARS OF VOTING

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1918-2018 WHAT HAVE WE GAINED?

It is astonishing to look back one hundred years and see what those brave women did to win the right to vote.Against much adversity, prejudice and obstruction, a relatively small group of passionate women gave the rest of us a powerful and much needed legacy. But how far on have we come? Would the likes of Pankhurst and Fawcett be proud of what we have achieved since?

MAJOR CHANGES, PARLIAMENTARY ACTS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE DEVELOPED
FOR WOMEN IN THE UK ALONE. SOME OF THESE INCLUDE; EQUAL PAY AND OTHER EMPLOYMENT ACTS, SEX DISCRIMINATION AND VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACTS, ABORTION, HUMAN RIGHTS AND WOMEN’S AID ACTS.

Laws have been passed that provide concrete services required by women. Examples include healthcare legislation around abortion and contraception, and welfare provision such as child bene ts and maternity pay. Legislation has also provided an equal platform from which women can fight for their human rights. However, some of these battles are still being fought, whilst new significant ones appear almost daily online, and in the pages of our own home-grown media. Hillary Clinton’s US presidential campaigns and commentary on Theresa May’s leadership have shown that women with power are often mocked. Additionally, women in the public eye are subjected to higher rates of online abuse than men.

Legislation alone is not going to be enough to ensure changes to women’s lives. Although these changes have enabled women to gain, for examples, the right to education, property rights, political representation, and access to contraceptives and abortion. So much so, things that were once unthinkable, such as a married woman divorcing her husband for adultery or a woman’s right to enter the professions, are now safeguarded by law. As a consequence women’s experience and attitudes towards women have changed dramatically.

We have taken huge strides forward across all areas from the top levels of government and the professions, women are changing perceptions about their roles and capabilities.

Here are a selection of civil society, academic, business and government reports and reviews on women’s and girls’ participation, power and leadership published in the UK recently:

The Fawcett Society | Centre for Women and Democracy and the Counting Women In coalition | London School of Economics Commission on Gender, Inequality and Power | Girlguiding | The Young Foundation | Women’s Equality Network Wales | Northumbria University | Lancaster, Roehampton and Bradford universities | University of Bristol | University of Cambridge | Ulster University | YWCA Scotland | Scottish Women’s Convention | EHRC | House of Commons | Northern Ireland Assembly | Women’s Policy Group Northern Ireland | Equality Commission for Northern Ireland | Welsh Assembly | ERS Cymru | Engender| Women’s Business Council | The 30% Club | Virgin Money with HM Treasury | PWC | Ernst & Young | CIPD | Telefónica | Deloitte with Government Equalities Office

We have taken huge strides forward across all areas from the top levels of government and the professions, women are changing perceptions about their roles and capabilities.

Most recently, the Women and Equalities Select Committee has been set up in the UK parliament to hear evidence from experts and women’s representatives and make recommendations to government. Similar focal points exist across the UK. Women from all backgrounds have a voice, and create change, through a vibrant energetic and independent women’s sector, through their professional organisations and trade unions, and through their own businesses.

However, there is plenty more hard work ahead as we need to make more progress with key rights and opportunities. These include the gender stereotypes, prejudice and violence against women – tackle these and we can strengthen civil society and encourage partnerships across government, civil and private sectors, so women will be able to contribute effectively and realise their full potential.