Women, The Vote, and 2010 Elections
Women and voting. Why is it so important for women to vote in general elections?
Clare Boothe Luce said, “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’ They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’ Why is it so vital for women to exercise their right to vote in 2010?
A UK general election must be held by June 2010. With MP expense scandals, the recession and moral at an all-time low, this is possibly one of the most important elections to date. Commentators believe that women are the solution.
It’s the female vote that caused the power and social views in 1997 to shift towards pro left – although the UK Labour Party encouraged women’s suffrage since its formation in 1906. Women used to be politically more Conservative, but the social attitudes have changed, with right of centre becoming less popular due to its policies being less appealing towards the female voters.
Political parties will begin to inundate voters with proposed policies and instant solutions to our appalling social needs. The truth is that the insta-solutions that will no doubt be promised are like the free bag with the magazine you don’t normally buy because it’s too expensive, but the free bag seems to swing the deal; over time the bag will break and become another piece of clutter.
We need to dig deeper into the policies. For example do you personally know anyone who has needed an abortion? Perhaps even you? Well, the Conservative Party, who are mainly dominated by anti abortion beliefs, wants to severely restrict the circumstances and time to just a mere eighteen weeks or less. Isn’t it a women’s right to decide what happens to her own body? If you too believe this then take a stand and vote!
Females MPs may be a minority but it’s because of them that the working women of today are entitled to help with childcare. This again is something that could be easily taken away from us. A majority of male MPs still believe childcare is the mother’s sole responsibility. Female MPs have also fought to tighten lapdancing rules and regulations, by giving the decision to the locals so that they decide if they want the proposed club or not; These places still don’t need a license and are still a factor in the struggle to stop women being objectified rather than seen as equals.
In 1897 the national union of women’s suffrage formed and Millicent Fawcett spearheaded the tactile and peaceful protests. By 1903 women didn’t want to wait any longer, and they were prepared to actively demonstrate. In 1905 Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney interrupted a political meeting in which they asked the two politicians if they thought women should vote. Neither man replied so Christabel and Annie held high a banner and began to shout for them to answer; both women were manhandled out and arrested.
The violent protests continued with firebombing politicians’ houses, refusing to pay tax and burning down churches; these women went on hunger strike when in prison so they would be force-fed by guards worried of public backlash. When the First World War broke out in 1914, Emmeline Pankhurst urged women to stop protesting and help with their countries battle; in 1918 as a result the Representation of People Act was passed, meaning women who owned property over the age of 30 could vote. By 2nd July 1928 all women could vote on the same terms as men.
The fight continued with the Riots of 1970 with the Miss World contest at the Royal Albert Hall London. Women united in their cause shouted in chorus, ‘We’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry’. Although initially protesting against the ‘meat market’ mentality of beauty contests, these women also set the course for women’s equal rights.
The first National Women’s Liberation Conference was held at Ruskin College, Oxford in 1971, and it was first time women united to talk about the challenges they faced daily. Over time they came up with basic demands for equality, none of which were unreasonable; Equal pay, equal jobs, equal opportunities, 24 nurseries, contraception and abortion on demand. It’s because of these women that laws such as the 1970 Equal Pay Act, the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act, and the 1976 Domestic Violence Act were all passed.
Today the sad truth is that men and women are still not given equal representation in our society. Even though the equal pay act 1973 states that men and women should have equal pay for the same job, it continues with a pay gap in men’s favour of around 14%. The House of Commons is still predominately male, and these people pass laws that govern our everyday life; taking female issues seriously is still a priority and shouldn’t be put down to feminist babble!
Why should women vote?
Abstaining isn’t protesting!
To abstain will be in vain. Women have been given a right to vote, with a minority of men still scrapping their hands along the floor. Why are we not participating in something so important to our own individual lives?
Yes, men do still have higher authority within parliament – but by voting we can have our voice heard, we can change injustice and we can stop certain parties from deciding what we can and can’t do.
The outcome of the 2010 vote is so uncertain that it could be won by just a few individual votes.
If you don’t vote then you can’t moan about rising taxes, abortion laws being changed and the way your life is governed. We are a democracy and very lucky to be part of one. Although the last few years of politics have been trust-destroying, we have to start to rebuild – and become even more vigilant about who we want to be in power.
Your vote could change everything.
Millicent Fawcett was a rather active person.
Clare Boothe Luce was just brilliant.
Actually, women voting – or anyone voting – is just brilliant.