Ahead of today’s Parliamentary debate marking the centenary of women’s suffrage, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a new £500,000 fund to support projects that encourage greater representation of women in political roles at all levels of Scottish society.
The 100th anniversary notes the passing of the Representation of the People Act in 1918 granting the right to vote to women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification. In the same year, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act was passed, allowing women to become MPs for the first time.
The right to vote for all women came about 10 years later in 1928 with the passing of the Equal Franchise Act.
Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement, Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan said:
“I’m delighted that the First Minister has dedicated £500,000 to fund support projects around Scotland aimed at celebrating and commemorating the centenary of women’s suffrage and improving women’s representation in politics.
“Although today’s anniversary marks only some women being granted the right to vote, it signifies a step in the right direction and ultimately led to the Equal Franchise Act a decade later, so it’s important we commend and celebrate the work of the suffragists and suffragettes who made the right to vote for all women in Scotland and the UK a reality.
“As well as this, today is about recognising and celebrating all the women who since gaining the right to vote have still carried the baton for women on equal rights as, unfortunately, the battle for equality is not yet over.
“We have seen this battle for equality locally with the long running Equal Pay campaign for hundreds of women against Inverclyde Council.
“Last week’s passing of the Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act highlights the work of the Scottish Parliament at tackling gender inequality and is a one of many measures towards ensuring women are equally represented in the workplace.”
SNP Inverclyde Councillor, Liz Robertson, echoed Stuart’s thoughts:
“The 1918 Representation of the People Act is celebrated today as one of many steps on the continuing journey towards equality in political representation in the UK.
“Had I been “me” in 1918, as a 42-year old woman and a homeowner, I would have been delighted that I was finally allowed to vote. My fellow, and younger, Inverclyde Councillor, Natasha Murphy, would however still not be eligible to vote for a number of years. It would be 10 years later, with the passing of the Equal Franchise Act 1928, before women and men had the same voting rights in the UK.
“Women make up over half the population of our country, but in public life it rarely looks or seems that way. Equality of political representation is indeed a continuing journey.
“The First Minister’s announcement of funding to support more women to become involved in politics is a further opportunity to keep reaching towards that equality, an opportunity which I hope many will grasp.”