Wandsworth celebrates women’s suffrage centenary

Published: Tuesday 6th February 18

Wandsworth Council is celebrating the centenary of women receiving the right to vote and remembering the role that the borough played in the women’s suffrage movement.

Councillors Govindia and Sutters

Today (Feb 6) marks 100 years since women over 30 secured the right to vote, and while the 1918 Representation of the People Act only represented partial suffrage, it was a massive step forward on the road to electoral gender parity.

Wandsworth played its part in that journey, with Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the most famous women’s suffrage pioneers, holding regular meetings in the lower hall of the former Battersea Town Hall (now the Battersea Arts Centre).

As a result of their campaigning the 1918 Act gave 8.5m women the vote and soon after the ban on women being elected to parliament was lifted.

One hundred years on and women now make up half of Wandsworth Council’s cabinet.

Cabinet member for Communications, Cllr Steffi Sutters, said: “Our political landscape is enriched by the inclusion of women and I am honoured to work beside such a forward-thinking Leader committed to an inclusive council.  However, I never forget that my voice is only heard because of those voices that went before me and fought to make women’s representation possible. It is poignant that Wandsworth was part of that story.”

Cllr Govindia said: “Since I entered politics I have seen opportunities for women open up and in Wandsworth we are blessed with many talented women helping to shape the borough and its future. However, we must not be complacent and I would encourage women interested in local politics to get involved.

“On the anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, I think it’s also important to remember the women who were not the stars of the campaign but who played their part, battling for equality in the home and the workplace. A lot of these women remained in the background but were hugely important in helping achieve landmarks like winning the vote. Their efforts must always be remembered.”  

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Recent comments

I agree it's important to celebrate the centenary of (some) women winning the right to vote. But it's odd that this article doesn't mention Charlotte Despard, another tireless campaigner for full suffrage, who lived in Nine Elms and actually stood for election as the Labour candidate in Battersea at the December 1918 general election - one of the very first women candidates. Seems there's still much to be done to get her amazing achievements recognised and honoured.
Hilaire McLiesh

11 February 2018