Thursday 2nd July 2020 marked 92 years since the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 was passed.
The Act granted equal voting rights to both men and women from the age of 21.
It expanded on the Representation of the People Act of 1918, which had given some women the vote in Parliamentary elections for the first time. Whereas the 1918 Act largely excluded working class women, the Equal Franchise Act gave the vote to all women over 21 years old, regardless of property ownership. Prior to this act only women over 30 who met minimum property qualifications could vote.
Millicent Fawcett, founder of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies attended Parliament to witness the vote. She wrote in her diary: ‘It is almost exactly 61 years ago since I heard John Stuart Mill introduce his suffrage amendment to the Reform Bill on the 20th May 1867. So I have had extraordinarily good luck in having seen the struggle from the beginning.’
The continued struggle for women’s equality is more important than ever. Whilst it has become increasingly clear that cases of coronavirus tend to be more severe in men than women, evidence suggests that women are being disproportionately affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that women were particularly affected at the start of the lockdown, as sectors which shut down early on disproportionately employed women. It also found that mothers are more likely to have quit or lost their job, or to have been furloughed, since the start of the lockdown.