Winning the vote: 100 years of women’s suffrage

Today is the 100 the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in Ireland and the UK.

It was a day that marked a victory in a significant campaign that had been raging for decades before it and represented paving the way towards a future that they would have a more equal hand in deciding.

They paved the path towards a society where all women would one day have the right to vote and make decisions in the running of their countries.

For the likes of Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Emmeline Pankhurst and Constance Markievicz the Representation of the People Act, 1918 represented the culmination of a fight they had sacrificed for and a world they had rebelled against.

However it’s important to remember that the vote for women that was legalised in 1918 came with large restrictions. Only women over thirty who were landowners or possessed a university education had the right to vote. This meant that only 40 per cent of women were actually entitled to the vote. In Ireland women over 21 didn’t win the right to vote until 1922.

All citizens of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) without distinction of sex, who have reached the age of twenty-one years and who comply with the provisions of the prevailing electoral laws, shall have the right to vote for members of Dáil Eireann, and to take part in the Referendum and Initiative.

Over the 100 years that have passed  and we have gained the full right to vote, to decide in referendums, to vote for our president and to vote for our political leaders. We have gained the power of choice.

And on days like today it is important to remember that to women 100 years ago that choice was a something that needed fighting for. Something that had to be decided for them. Something they had to hope came true.

So next time an election or a referendum arrives, make sure you use that right.



Illustration by Méabh McDonnell

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