February 6th 2018 – Full Gender Equality Next?

1908, Daisy Dugdale leads the women

We are celebrating this month, rightly so, because it is one hundred years since some women first go the right to vote in the UK. Women in New Zealand gained suffrage in 1893, and the US in 1920. Full universal suffrage was not granted in the UK and Ireland until 1928. Saudi Arabia 2011.

When the first British women gained the right to vote, the celebrations were low key. The Great War was still raging in February 1918, and the suffragette movement itself had splintered over whether to pause its campaign during the hostilities.

“The pageantry and rejoicing… which in prewar days would have greeted the victory, were absent when it came,” Sylvia Pankhurst in her 1931 book The Suffragette Movement. “The sorrows of the world conflict precluded jubilations”

Plus, it was not a total victory; only those women aged over 30 who owned property or were graduates voting in a university constituency were added to to the electoral roll. It also gave the vote to 5.6 million more men after their voting age was lowered to 21, and the property qualification for men was abolished. The general election in December 1918 had an electorate three times the size of the previous one.

One victory led to another. The bar to women running for parliament was removed, and the very first female MP was elected that year . The following year, Nancy Astor took her seat. She was met off the train into London by gleeful former suffragettes, one of whom gave her a badge declaring this to be a “new era”.

Fast forward to the UK in 2018. The gender pay gap debate is raging. Women still do not enjoy pay parity with men but our voices are increasingly being heard. The #MeToo movement is dividing feminists but getting lots of publicity. There is a sea change afoot (is that a mixed metaphor?) and we are on the threshold of change. A new feminist wave? I think so. We need to be very careful that we are not given a few high profile yet in reality cosmetic changes that make little significant difference. We must hold society to account just as the suffragettes did 100 years ago.

We must also hold ourselves to account.

We must check our own unconscious biases, we must speak up when we see injustices, and we must support and sustain the women who are not being treated equally, whatever their country, ethnicity, class, or occupation. We don’t have full equality if we simply fight for the white professional classes and only enfranchise the better off.  True gender equality has to encompass the rights of all women everywhere.


Asian Suffragettes protesting 1911


Here are two more articles you might enjoy reading –

No Equal Pay Because You are a Girl

Why No Women on Boards Ten Years On

Seminars for Women

I am running two seminars at Arnos Vale in Bristol this Spring, and yes, they are aimed at professional women in order to help them negotiate the male centric work environment. At Changing People, we are committed to seeing more women in positions of power because we believe 100% that the world a better place when we have full gender equality. Not just financially, although there is a wealth of evidence to show that, but right across the board. Most of the significant life affecting decisions in this country are still made by a majority of men. When that is more equal, when female voices are heard and carry as much weight, we will see better outcomes for ALL women, and, the research suggests, a lot of men will benefit, too. Win-win all round.

Back to those seminars. They are about sharing research and information on communication styles and giving women the opportunity to reflect on their own style, while adding to their knowledge. Knowledge is power. They are not about putting down the men. They are about building confidence in women. We have kept the price as low as we can to enable as broad a group as possible to attend so please share with friends and colleagues and come along!

Here are the details:

The first one is on March 6th and is called Understanding Menglish (or communication differences between men and women). Details are here.

The second is on April 17th and is called Women, Be Yourself AND Communicate Effectively. Details are here.


Posted on February 6th, 2018 by

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