For the majority democracy is a crucial part of our lives and it’s hard to believe that over 100 years ago, at the outbreak of the First World War most of the general public did not have the right to vote. The political voices of many of the men who fought on the foreign battlefields and women who ensured the upkeep of the country were ignored. As the war came to an end and after decades of action by the ‘suffragists’, their voices were finally heard and the 1918 Representation of the People Act passed through Parliament with an overwhelming majority.
Dr Mari Takayanagi is Senior Archivist at the Parliamentary Archives, where she has worked in various roles including public services, outreach, preservation and access. She is joint project manager and co-curator of ‘Voice and Vote: ‘Women’s Place in Parliament’, Parliament’s exhibition to celebrate 100 years of the vote for some women and all men in 2018. In her guest article, Mari takes us through the events that led up to the signing of the act, and the significance of this political milestone being marked on a UK 50p coin.