CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF VOTES FOR WOMEN

NCW played a small part in the suffrage campaign. Millicent Fawcett was an NCW member and gave a paper at the first NCW conference in 1895 entitled ‘The Probable Effect on the Position of Women of Granting Them the Parliamentary Suffrage’. At first members were uncertain about their support for the suffrage movement but in 1907 it was agreed that NCW should take part in a public demonstration in favour of women’s suffrage. About 70 to 80 members walked behind the NCW banner in the procession with others following in carriages and brakes.

On 6 February 1918 the Representation of the People Act 1918 received Royal Assent and extended the franchise to women over the age of 30 years, if they were either a member or married to a member of the Local Government Register, a property owner, or a graduate voting in a University constituency. At the same time all men over the age of 21 gained the vote

The third woman to be elected as an MP was NCW member Margaret Wintringham. Elected in a by-election in 1921 she served one term in which she campaigned for an equal franchise; equal pay for women; state scholarships for girls as well as boys, and women-only railway carriages.

In 1928, the Equal Franchise Act finally gave women the vote on the same basis as men so that British women over 21 years of age could vote in local and national elections.