What is #Vote100 and why is it so important?

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You may have seen #Vote100 floating about on social media over the past few weeks, but what is it all about?

2018 marks 100 years since Parliament passed a law allowing the first women, and all men to vote for the first time. #Vote100 is the hashtag being used to celebrate this milestone.

But why is that important?

Until 1918, women were not able to have any say in political matters. Women were oppressed and their opinions didn’t matter, a view that was shared by most of society. Even when the law was passed, women still had to be over 30 with property qualifications or as graduates from a UK university. It is important to celebrate this law passing and women finally getting a chance to have their say.

In 1903, the Women’s Social and Political Union was formed by Emmeline Pankhurst and women getting the vote is often credited to them.

But who are they?

The Women’s Social and Political Union is more widely known as the Suffragettes. This was a group of women who endlessly campaigned for equal rights and often took great risks to do so.

Many other countries had allowed women to vote so by 1903, Pankhurst decided that the cause would have to become radical and militant if they were going to achieve their goal. Their tactics ranged from hunger strikes to property damage which the police responded to with jailing and force-feeding, until it was suspended due to the outbreak of war in 1914.

The tactics that the women are probably more known for are acts such as chaining themselves to the gates of parliament and on June 4th 1913, Emily Davison was killed after being crushed by the King’s racehorse ‘Anmer’ at The Derby. It is debated whether she is trying to pull down the horse, attach a suffragette scarf or banner to the horse or if she was trying to commit suicide to become a martyr for the cause. However, recent analysis of footage from the event suggests that the suicide theory is unlikely and that she was trying to attach a scarf to the horse, especially as she was carrying a return train ticket from Epsom.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, said the suffragettes will be pardoned under a Labour government as the women were “treated appallingly by society and the state”. However, this is a controversial move as many people believe that this would defeat the point that the suffragettes were making.

So how can you get involved?

There are talks and events happening around the country throughout 2018. One way to mark the occasion is to hold an EqualiTea between the 18th June – 2nd July, an event that has been set up for people to discuss their views in their local community.

Visit the #Vote100 or the government’s webpage to find more events in your local area.

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