Panel 12: The March is Over: Women get the Vote!

Click on the image to see a larger copy of the original exhibition panel.

An estimated 2 million women replacing men in employment during the war was a key factor in obtaining the vote. New Zealand born Noeline Baker, who had co-founded the Guildford branch of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, worked with the London Society for Women’s Suffrage register of voluntary women workers, the Surrey Women’s Farm Labour Committee and the Women’s Land Army. In 1920 she received a MBE for her war work.

David Lloyd George replaced Herbert Asquith as Prime Minister in 1916 bringing a more liberal stance and arguments for women being enfranchised could no longer be ignored. On 6 February 1918, after 52 years and 16,310 petitions to parliament, the Representation of the People Act finally granted the vote to women over the age of 30, if they occupied property to the value of at least £5, or were married to a man who met the property qualification. The vote was also extended to all men over the age of 21. Many women campaigners still did not qualify. Suffragette Lilian Lenton recounted how ‘I didn’t vote for a very long time because I hadn’t either a husband or furniture, although I was over 30’.

The first national election in which women voted took place in December 1918. The previous month The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowed women to stand as a Member of Parliament. Constance Markiewicz was the first elected female MP (Sinn Fein) although she did not take her seat, and it was not until 1919 that Lady Nancy Astor became the first female MP to enter Parliament. Surrey elected its first female MP, Virginia Bottomley (Conservative) for South West Surrey in 1984.

However, it was not until 1928 that the Equal Franchise Act granted the right to vote to all men and women over the age of 21, which was lowered to 18 in 1968.

The March of the Women project team at the ‘Processions’ march in London, 10 June 2018

Surrey’s road to the vote has been long but it is filled with the inspirational stories of local women and men who fought for the voting rights we enjoy today. Women now participate in every sphere of local and national politics and community governance.

Panel 1 – The March of the Women: Surrey’s Road to the Vote

Panel 2 – The Growth of the Suffrage Movement in Surrey

Panel 3 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Peaceful Protest

Panel 4 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Long Road to the Vote

Panel 5 – Suffragists in Surrey: The Great Pilgrimage

Panel 6 – Leading Suffrage Supporters in Surrey: Peaceful vs Militant

Panel 7 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Early Activism

Panel 8 – Suffragettes in Surrey: Militancy Continues

Panel 9 – Suffragettes in Surrey: the Ultimate Sacrifice

Panel 10 – The Anti-Suffrage Campaign in Surrey

Panel 11 – Anti-Suffragists in Surrey: Active Women in the Community

Click here to read more about The March of the Women project

Click here to read The March of the Women blog

Explore more about Surrey’s road to votes for women and the county’s role in the national women’s suffrage campaign

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *