2018 marks 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed women over the age of 30 who met minimum requirements to vote for the first time. About 8.4 million women gained the right to vote – those who were householders, wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5, and graduates of British universities. The first election in which these women were allowed to vote was held on 14th December 1918. Prior to this, only a small number of women were allowed to vote. Also that year, in November 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to be elected into the House of Commons.
Women were then given equal voting rights to men (over 21 years of age) in 1928. In 1969 the age limit for voting was lowered from 21 to 18 and a debate continues today calling it to be lowered to 16 years of age.
We are celebrating this milestone by getting involved with Vote 100. Lots of exciting activities are happening across the UK, including a major exhibition, talks and tours. Follow #Vote100 on Twitter to keep up to date.
What’s on in 2018?
In Devon, community activities are being organised by a number of groups including Fawcett Devon, Dreadnought SW and WOW (Women of the World Exeter). There is also a Votes for Women? exhibition at Killerton House running until November.
Follow the Suffrage Flag on its relay around the UK – it is coming to Devon on Tuesday 3rd April to be welcomed by the NHS, Environment Agency, Met Office and Exeter City Council. Its visit to Exeter will include an event at the University on Thursday 5th April before being passed on to Devon County Council on the Friday. Devon County Council will then pass it on to Government agencies in Plymouth #SuffrageFlagRelay.
Photography exhibition – The Candidates by Jessica Lennan. The Candidates is a series of portraits of women who stood as candidates in the 2017 Devon County Council election and the General Election for constituencies in Devon. It is at the Dodo Gallery, Exeter on 10th, 11th, 17th & 18th of March. Opening Times Saturdays and Sundays from 11am till 5pm . Free Entry. The exhibition will then tour Devon. Contact Fawcett Devon if you would like to host it.
Devon History Society is mapping Suffrage Activists in Devon. They are also running a conference ‘How the vote was won: women’s suffrage, Devon and the Representation of People Act 1918’ on 21st April in Plymouth.
Devon County Council activities:
Read our article about our first woman County Councillor, Juanita Maxwell Phillips.
Friday 14th December – an event is being planned to mark 100 years since qualifying women over the age of 30 were able to cast their first vote. This will include the exhibition The Candidates which will be on display in at County Hall.