A century ago today, legislation was passed allowing women to vote in elections for the first time in Britain. It is, of course, important to remember that not all women were included in this significant milestone; it would take another 10 years for women to be given the same voting rights as their male counterparts.
Regardless, February 6 1918 marked a huge step forward for women’s equality, after decades of battling against stereotypical arguments that women lacked the intelligence to decide who should run the country, that they were too irrational to be given the vote and that women should be seen and not heard.
Since then, millions of women have fought against a system that has been rigged against them; whether that’s in the workplace, in politics, or even in social spheres. And there is still more to be done – the events of the last few months have demonstrated that very clearly.
The #MeToo movement has not only given the women the power to speak out against unacceptable behaviour but has also made blindingly clear that not enough has been done in the past to actually hold those who act in that way to account for their actions (something women have been unfortunately painfully aware of for decades).
In addition, the gender pay gap remains an important and unresolved issue that needs to be addressed with the utmost urgency, with women in the UK being paid on average 20% less than their male colleagues.
And then there is the task of making businesses and our democracy much more representative of women. 100 years after the first women got the vote in the UK, less than one third of MPs are women, and only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies are lead by women. Moreover, science sectors continue to maintain insurmountable barriers to women, despite them outnumbering men on science courses at university.
The female voice may be stronger than ever before, but the battle continues to grant women the equality they have been fighting over a century for,