Women & Elections: Top 10 Facts

Top Ten Women & Elections Facts


Women struggled hard for the vote. There are important local elections on Thursday 22 May. Read more here and ask your candidates to take the #WomensSafetyPledge


Are you a candidate for election on 22 May? Find out more about the #WomensSafetyPledge here and sign up!



1st woman elected to the House of Commons – was Sinn Fein’s Countess de Markievicz but she was in Holloway Prison and did not take her seat; Nancy Astor was the first woman to take her seat in the Commons. 


Women were already voting in the 19C and earlier, in some local elections, for Poor Law wardens, and possibly in some Parliamentary elections if they had significant property and were unmarried/widowed; it seems that as the franchise gradually expanded to include more men during the 19C that social and Parliamentary attitudes hardened against women voting and only then did women's exclusion from the franchise become specific.


The arguments against enfranchising women made in Parliament as Bills were debated from the later 19C onwards are hilarious – ‘women’s interests are the same as their father/husband’s so they don’t need a vote’; ‘women don’t want the vote’; ‘it will make them manly and unfeminine’; ‘it will weaken Parliament’…If not sadly similar to much current online comment…


Between 1905 and 1918 around 1,000 Suffragettes went to prison in Britain for their activities campaigning for votes for women.


On 30 May 1929 women voted for the first time on equal terms with men; it was known as the ‘Flapper election’. Electoral reform in 1918 only gave wealthier women aged 30 and over the vote.


The first black woman elected to House of Commons was Diane Abbott in 1987, 58 years after all women had the vote. She was also a candidate for the Labour leadership in 2010.


Boris Johnson is related to suffragist Millicent Fawcett!


And overseas -


In the 1792 elections in Sierra Leone, then a new British colony, all heads of household could vote and one-third were ethnic African women.


Women cannot vote in Saudi Arabia. It is promised as a possibility for elections in 2015 although previous such commitments have not been kept.


There are currently 19 women presidents or prime ministers – among the 193 UN member states.


Loads more brilliant facts and history here:






Now – ask your 22 May local elections candidates to take the #WomensSafetyPledge here!.