Commemorating 100 years of women's suffrage

Published: Tuesday, 23rd January 2018

This year sees the 100th anniversary of votes for women in the UK. Throughout 2018 there will be events in Oxford marking the anniversary and the City Council is proud to be supporting these.  

The Representation of the People Act was passed on 6 February 1918. It gave women over the age of 30 who owned property, and all men over the age of 21, the right to vote.    

Campaigners in Oxford played a major part in the long, but ultimately successful, campaign that culminated in the Act becoming law. Oxford City Council is supporting events around the city throughout the year and will focus on encouraging more people to register to vote to mark the centenary. The move is supported by all of the major parties represented on the City Council.

The commemorations kick off on 6 February when flags in suffragette colours will be flown across Oxford, including on the Town Hall. 

There will be a public event on 6 February at the the Town Hall to celebrate the life of Olive Gibbs, former Lord Mayor of Oxford and Chairman of Oxfordshire County Council, who was born in 1918. The free event runs from 6pm until 7:30pm in the Assembly Room and is open to the public. For more information visit The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities website.

Cllr Susan Brown, Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council and Labour councillor for Churchill ward, said: "Women from Oxford and across the country fought for our rights to participate fully in society. 

"This commemoration gives us a chance to thank them and to hear the amazing stories of their bravery and determination. I’m looking forward to learning more about local women this year and helping to celebrate them."

Cllr Liz Wade, Liberal Democrat councillor for St Margaret's ward, said: "The Act marked a turning point in the history of real democracy in the UK. It is fitting that we should celebrate this beginning of the recognition of the equal contributions made by women to the life and prosperity of this country.

"February 1918 was a bleak moment in Britain's history - the fifth year of the Great War with no end in sight. But Lloyd George's Liberal Government still made time to pass the Representation of the People Act, which started the move towards universal female suffrage. 

“A hundred years on, equality is still a long way off, as current news headlines will testify. But we will not give up the struggle. We are inspired by the words of Malala Yousafzai, currently studying at Lady Margaret Hall: I raise up my voice - not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back."

Cllr Ruthie Brand, Green Party councillor for Carfax ward, said: “I am pleased that Oxford is commemorating this important anniversary and the role that Oxford women played in obtaining women’s suffrage. And I am grateful to those women who fought so hard so that I would be allowed to vote, not to mention be voted into office. 

"It is right that we use this centenary year to highlight the accomplishments of the suffrage movement, but we must also reflect on how we can continue to move forwards, both in terms of equal representation, and towards a fairer voting system."

Other events planned as part of the centenary commemorations include:

  • a BBC Radio Oxford documentary on the suffrage movement
  • events to mark the centenary during the Oxford Women's Festival on 8 March
  • "Vote100 EqualiTeas" to celebrate and discuss the extension of the franchise in June and July. For more information visit https://equaliteas.org.uk
  • a re-creation of a suffragette trial in the Town Hall Court Room in September.

For more details on all of these and other planned events contact Suzette Starmer in the Elections Team on 01865 252432 or email [email protected]