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One hundred years ago today, the first British women eligible to vote took their place at the ballot box. Thanks to the tireless work of the Suffragettes, 8.5 million women were finally able to cast their votes and have their say in the running of their country.
This vote marked a turning point in history. Whilst there were still restrictions – only women over 30 who owned a property or, a university education could vote – the significance of this day cannot be underestimated. For decades, women had fought for their voices to be counted. On 14 December 1918, this dream finally became a reality.
The Suffragettes did more than achieve voting rights for women though – they helped set the stage for a century of change. Since then, women around the world have continued to speak out for their rights, standing up to sexism, racism, homophobia, corruption and much more.
Last century’s Suffragettes are today’s women human rights defenders. Every day women continue to harness their loud and passionate voices to empower communities, protect the vulnerable and create a fairer, more equal world.
Because the fight is not over.
This has become strikingly clear this year as, women around the world have risen in their millions to campaign for rights and justice. In 2018, we saw women-led movements like Latin America’s ‘Ni Una Menos’ once more galvanise mass support for women’s rights issues on a scale never seen before. In India and South Africa, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest endemic sexual violence. In Iran, women activists risked arrest to resist forced hijab wearing. In Argentina, Ireland and Poland, demonstrators rallied in vast numbers to demand an end to oppressive abortion laws. In Iceland and Sweden, new laws were passed recognising sex without consent as rape. And across the USA, Europe and Japan, millions joined the second #MeToo-led women’s march to demand an end to misogyny and sexual…