On 24th April, the statue of Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist President of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) and first-ever monument to a woman to stand in Parliament Square was unveiled.
Designed by artist Gillian Wearing, the statue is set with the names and portraits of 59 women and men who fought for women’s suffrage, all noted for their dedication to campaign and secure the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to vote for the first time.
Amongst the names of prominent female campaigners for women’s suffrage and rights, the names of the following four men have been noted for their dedication for universal suffrage and advocacy for women’s rights. These historic male agents for change highlight just a few of the men who campaigned for universal suffrage.
Rev Claude Hinscliff (1875-1964) Church League for Women’s Suffrage
Rev Hinscliff was an influential member of the Men’s League for Women’s suffrage and founder of the Church League for women’s Suffrage campaign alongside his wife Gertrude. By 1913 the CLWS had 103 branches and 5080 members. On June 14th 1913 he officiated Emily Wilding Davison’s funeral at St George’s, Bloomsbury.
Laurence Housman (1865-1959) Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage
Laurence Housman alongside being a prominent playwright, socialist, pacifist founded the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage with Henry Nevis on and Henry Brailsford in 1907. In 1909 he founded the Suffrage Atelier with his sister Clemence, a suffrage arts and crafts society.
George is one of the most well-known make supporters of women’s suffrage in Britain helping to form the East London Federation of Suffragettes which his daughter in law Minnie, also celebrated on the statue for her dedication to universal suffrage, joined. George Lansbury was the MP for Bromley by Bow between 1910 and 1912 until he resigned his seat to campaign for women’s suffrage and women’s rights.
Frederick and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence were editors of Votes for Women and provided the premises for the WSPU offices in London until 1912 when they were ejected from the WSPU before joining the United Suffragists.
Background to the 1918 Representation of the People Act
On the 6th February 1918 The Representation of the People Act was passed. Granting 6 million men and 8.4 million women the right to vote.
Largely known for having granted the vote to women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5 and graduates of British Universities, the act also granted all men over the age of 21 the right to vote:
A man shall be entitled to be registered as a parliamentary elector for a constituency… if he is of full age and not subject to any legal incapacity.
The 1918 Representation of the People Act, the fourth of its kind marked the most substantial change to the electorate almost tripling it in size from 7.7million in 1912 to 21.4 million by the end of 1918 with women accounting for 43% of the electorate. It would take until 1928 and the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act to extend voting franchise to all women over the age of 21 granting women the vote on the same terms as men.
How can you join in?
The Government Equalities Office is celebrating the centenary and asks the public to join them as they look back on 100 years of votes for women and look forward to equal representation. There are hundreds of events to take part in here and you can keep in the loop of centenary news on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CelebratingVotesforWomen/
Modern Male Change Agents for Gender Equality
Yesterday the Prime Minister, who set up the Women’s Business Council in 2012 commented stated that:
`‘The struggle for justice for women continues to this day. And it’s one in which we all have a role to play’ – Theresa May 23rd April 2018, Evening Standard.
The Women’s Buiness Council have advocated that men must be part of the answer in addressing gender equality and representation at work. The WBC’s Men as Change Agents action group led by Denis Woulfe and Emer Timmons work to engage modern male change agents with gender equality of opportunity in work.
On 15th March in collaboration with Management Today the group highlighted the work of 30 modern agents of change for gender equality in business progressing the gender agenda in each of their sectors.
On 9th April the Group published ‘Men As change Agents: achieving gender balance in business leadership and closing the gender pay gap’. The Toolkit calls on senior business leaders, CEOs and Chairmen to transform the gender diversity of their executive teams by:
- Taking personal responsibility for ensuring 33% of executive-level business leaders are women by 2020
- Sponsoring 1-3 women from within organisations who have the potential to secure an executive role within 3 years.
- Being an active and visible change agent by being part of the wider business conversation about achieving gender balance.