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A brief history of Suffragettes ‘heroism’

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10 things you did not know

  1. As Prime Minister Theresa May hails suffragettes ‘heroism’ amid her government facing calls to pardon women who were treated as criminals for fighting for the right to vote 100 years ago, lets take a look at the key highlights of a movement which shaped and inspired a generation.
  2. While we are celebrating this year as the centenary, the legislation passed in 1918 did not give all women the right to vote. Only those who were above 30 years and home owners were eligible to vote.
  3. Full suffrage for all women over the age of 21 was only granted a decade later.
  4. According to Financial Times, when John Stuart Mill — author of The Subjection of Women and MP for Westminster — put forward a bill in 1868 to extend suffrage to women, he was greeted with derisive laughter in the Commons.
  5. The name ‘suffragettes’ was actually given by The Daily Mail to the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) as a derogatory term in 1906.
  6. Emmeline Pankhurst, long associated with the militant campaign for the vote, however embraced this name for the organisation she had set up in Manchester three years before. She was jailed and released 11 times for her campaigning.
  7. Members of the Pankhurst-led group were well-known for smashing windows, cutting electricity wires and blowing up post boxes. They would even assault cops and stage hunger strikes to protest against the conditions.
  8. Following years of campaigning, on 6 February 1918, 8.4m women over the age of 30 were finally given the vote under the Representation of the People Act 1918.
  9. Still it only represented 40 per cent of the total population of women in the UK. It wasn’t until 1929 that the Equal Franchise Act was brought in, finally allowing men and women aged 21 and over the same rights.
  10. An exhibition to mark the achievements of the suffragettes will take place today in Trafalgar Square, the site where many important speeches to campaign for the vote took place.



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