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OPINION

The importance of celebrating brilliant women every day

100 years after women got the vote, The Pool’s Sam Baker highlights the need to tell – and listen to – women’s stories

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By Sam Baker on

Today marks the 100th anniversary of partial suffrage for women in the UK. Not universal – The Representation Of The People Act 1918 extended the vote only to those women over 30 who owned property or were married to a man who did – but it was a start. The start of a *very* long journey.

So, here we are in 2018 and it (almost) goes without saying that women's rights have changed immeasurably since that landmark day in February 1918. By the end of that year, those same women had also won the right to stand in parliament (Constance Markievicz became the first woman elected on 28 December 1918); in 1919, Nancy Astor, Conservative MP and "ardent feminist", was the first woman to take a seat in the House of Commons. In 1928, all women over 21 got the vote; that was extended to women (and men) over 18 in 1969.

No doubt about it, things have improved immeasurably. And, to thank for that, we have all the women – and men – who have worked incredibly hard for us to get this far

But that's not all – the birth-control pill was approved for popular use in 1960. Equal pay for work of equal value was enshrined in the constitution in 1970; at the last count, the pay gap still stood at 18 per cent, rising to 30 per cent for mothers – so forgive me if I’m not holding my breath.

In 1991, marital rape was declared illegal – sweeping away the 250-year old notion that consent once given cannot be retracted. A notion that some are still having trouble grasping.

No doubt about it, things have improved immeasurably. And, to thank for that, we have all the women – and men – who have worked incredibly hard for us to get this far and those who will continue to do so. And don't those people and their achievements deserve more than a week, a month or even a year of recognition?

When The Pool launched, almost three years ago now, it was with one thing in mind: to create a platform where women's voices could be heard. We wanted to celebrate women's achievements – whether that achievement was building the Shard, speaking out about sexual assault, summoning the courage to take a career leap or even, simply, getting out of bed that morning. (For some, it's a lot harder than it sounds.)

We wanted to amplify women's voices and help campaign to improve their lot – in politics, in the workplace, in life.

It's something we have tried to do every day since. Sometimes we succeed, just as often we don't.

So, yes, we'll be celebrating this momentous centenary – an incredible year a century ago, when women, quite literally, fought and died to get the vote. But not just for a week, for a month or even for a year.

For good.

@sambaker

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Photo: Getty Images
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