Celebrating 100 years since first women voters but fight for equality far from over 7 Feb 2018

We still see more women on zero hour contracts, suffering the impacts of insecure work and enduring widespread sexual harassment from Westminster to workplaces across the UK.

GMB, Britain’s general union, has celebrated 100 years since some women were first allowed to vote but warned the struggle for equality is far from over.

The Representation of the People Act, passed on 6 February 1918, gave women over 30 and 'of property' the right to vote.

Sarah James, GMB National Equality Forum Women’s Lead, said:

“A hundred years ago some women - those who owned property and were over 30 - successfully fought for the right to vote.

“But just like today there were too many women, too many working class women, left wanting.

”It is of course right that we celebrate the giants of the shoulders which we now stand on; so today we should remember and celebrate the women we owe so much to.

“Women like Emmeline Pankhurst, Emily Davidson and Flora Drummond but also women like Muriel Matters who was the first woman to ever 'speak' in Parliament during a protest that saw her chain herself to the grille that blocked out women's faces and voices from the gallery of the Commons.

“But as we see more women on zero hour contracts, suffering the impacts of insecure work and enduring widespread sexual harassment from Westminster to workplaces across the UK, we must recognise that the fight maybe different thanks to the brave women before us, but the fight for true equality is far from over."

Ruth Bennett, Regional organiser for Wales and South West said:

“One of the biggest lessons the Suffragists and Suffragettes taught us was that by standing strong and united, Women were able to change the world. They stood for all Women, defining womanhood as equal and chose to suffer together to fight and gain the vote for all women.

“One of the big issues today is that Austerity is disproportionately affecting Women.

“NHS and local government cuts of course affect men, but as Women are more likely to find employment in the public sector, they are disproportionately hurt when public services are squeezed.

“Similarly, although it’s rarely talked about in such terms, the crisis in social care is in many ways gendered. It’s largely women who make up the bulk home care and agency staff- often insecure, low-paid work- and at the same time it’s also women who are the bulk of family carers for disabled children and elderly parents. 

“When a council cuts a care package, it’s largely wives, mothers, and daughters doing the unpaid labour to plug the gap. As such these issues go beyond class and are an issue where all Women have to come together. Equality is more than just a vote, we need to build a new solidarity to pressure the government to change track on these harmful policies.”

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