I don’t really talk politics on my blog. Aside from my thoughts on gender equality. But today is a big day in the UK, there is a huge deal riding it and some very big issues that are at stake. I am not going to tell you who to vote for, that is up to you to decide. But I am going to tell you to go and vote. Like right now, you’ve got until 10pm, don’t miss out on your chance to have a say. You do have to have registered to vote to participate, but you do not need your voting card. So if you have forgotten it don’t worry.
I know what you might be thinking. But why? What is the point? They’re all liars anyway, I’m kind of with you there, but the policies they choose and a party’s belief will affect your life. It will affect the big issues we are all talking about – Brexit, the NHS, how much funding your child’s school gets, how much money you will earn, climate change, it’s all really big stuff. At the moment the early polls are looking tight as we could end up with a hung government. Let’s not go back to 2010. So, all the votes matter.
But did you know when you got the right to vote, did you know before 1918 – only 101 years ago women were not allowed to vote at all? Or before 1969, only 50 years ago 18-21 year olds were not allowed to vote either. Let me give you a quick timeline.
1918 – all men over 21 and most women over 30 were given the right to vote
This one is actually interesting, because prior to 1918. Firstly, women did not have the vote at all. Imagine living in a world where you had literally no say, it seems unfathomable to me. But also, men must have resided in the country for at least 12 months in order to be eligible to vote. This was amended after the first world war. Also soldiers were given the right to vote at 19. Imagine fighting for your country and not having the right to vote prior to this.
However, if you check the wording this says ‘most women’ and there was a property qualification that women had to have. Restrictions which had been in place for men previously, but were removed at this time but still applied to women. To quote a piece from the Common’s Library ‘To qualify for the Parliamentary franchise a woman, as well as being at least 30, had to own or rent property of a yearly value of £5 or more, or be married to a man who qualified for the local government franchise.” So not only did women have to be over 30, but they had to have wealth in order to vote.
1928 – all women over 21 were given the right to vote
It took ten years for all women to finally get the vote and be treated equally as well as the death of one female campaigner (see below).
1969 – all men and women over 18 were given the right to vote
You can fact check these dates on the government’s website.
Women Died to Get the Vote
This isn’t just something you’ve seen on the internet. If you haven’t heard of her before let me introduce you to Emmeline Pankhurst, a Suffragettes campaigner, an activist, a woman who went on hunger strikes to campaign to get women the right to vote and who was violently force fed as a result (this involved metal clamps holding their mouths open while tubes were pushed down their throats – you can read more about the violence against The Suffragettes here). Then there is Emily Davison who is 1928 who stepped in front of the King’s racehorse in protest and died in order to highlight the cause. An incredibly shocking thing for her to do at the time. Shortly after Emily’s death in 1928, women were given equal voting rights as men.
Your Vote Will Affect Women’s Issues
Maternity leave, flexible working, VAT on sanitary products, abortion laws, equality laws, gender pay gap, did you know that death from domestic violence has reached a 5 year high this year? All of this is affected by who governs our country.
At the moment women aged under 30 are the segment of the UK least likely to vote and young people in general have the lowest turn out. Don’t let men make the choice for us, or have policies biased by a different generation, have a say as all of these things matter. All you have to do is look at Ohio where abortion has been made illegal and doctors have orders to reinsert an ectopic pregnancy (which isn’t medically possible by the way), to know that scary things can happen. Because women’s votes really do matter.