Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928
The Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 (18 & 19 Geo. 5 c. 12) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that for the first time granted equal voting rights to men and women.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 had allowed women over the age of thirty who met a property qualification to vote, but that still left more than four million women disenfranchised.[a]It has been estimated that there were about 12.8 million women in the UK at that time. That same legislation had extended the vote to almost all men over the age of twenty-one, nineteen if serving in the military, creating a huge inequality between men and women. That inequality perhaps became more glaring given that in the aftermath of the First World War, the estimated population of England and Wales in 1919, about 37.4 million, was composed of 1.8 million more females than males.
The leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, Millicent Fawcett (1847–1929), who had long campaigned for women’s suffrage, attended the parliamentary session to see the vote take place. She wrote in her diary that night:
It is almost exactly 61 years ago since I heard John Stuart Mill introduce his suffrage amendment to the Reform Bill on 20 May 1867. So I have had extraordinary good luck in having seen the struggle from the beginning.
The Act added five million women to the electoral roll, making them a majority of 52.7 per cent of the electorate in the 1929 general election, sometimes as a result referred to as the FlapperTerm used to describe a sub-culture of young women in the aftermath of the First World War, intent on pleasure and flouting conventional standards of behaviour. Election.
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