The Representation of the People Act became law on 6 February 1918 – following the brave fight by Suffragettes across the country – which gave some women over 30 the right to vote.
The Leader, Deputy Leader and Lord Mayor of Birmingham, made a series of announcements during today’s Full Council, including plans for a book celebrating the lives of inspirational women who shaped the city, and a special debate at Highbury Hall on International Women’s Day.
The book, which will be published in the autumn, aims to find and profile the extraordinary achievements and lives of ordinary Birmingham women. Nominations can be made via the council’s social media channels.
Students from city colleges and schools will be invited to join the debate at Highbury Hall – Joseph Chamberlain’s ancestral home in Highbury Park, Moseley – on 8 March 2018. We want to find out how they would make Birmingham a better place for women to live and work in, and their feedback will help inform future policy and to make a real change in future.
Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr Anne Underwood, said: “We are here to formally acknowledge the Suffragettes’ and Suffragists’ efforts and to celebrate the achievements of the past 100 years which have seen our political landscape transformed.”
Leader of the Council, Cllr Ian Ward also announced plans to rename a committee room in the Council House after the city’s first female councillor – Dame Ellen Pinsent – who was elected in Edgbaston ward in December 1911.
Councillors wore green, white and violet in the Council Chamber, in the same way that women chose to support the Suffragettes and Suffragists by wearing jewellery featuring gems of those colours, spelling out their campaign message: Give Women the Vote.
Deputy Leader Cllr Brigid Jones, and Cllr Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Environment and Recycling, both wore original pieces of Suffragette jewellery (kindly loaned by Birmingham jewellers, Rex Johnson & Sons) thought to be crafted locally – as many pieces were created in the city’s Jewellery Quarter.
Earlier female councillors past and present – including Theresa Stewart, the first woman to be elected Leader of Birmingham City Council and former Lord Mayor, and three other former Lord Mayors (Cllr Sue Anderson, Cllr Sybil Spence and Anita Ward) – for a commemorative photo to mark the centenary.