On Thursday 5th April NHS Digital collaborated with the University of Exeter to hold an event commemorating 100 years since the passing of the Representation of The People Act, widely hailed as a milestone of the Suffrage movement.
The event, held in The Forum at the University’s Streatham campus, represents Exeter’s leg in a commemorative relay of the Suffrage Flag across the UK after NHS Digital received it last week. The afternoon included the display of the purple, white and green flag in The Forum and speeches from guest speakers, including Sara Cox, the first professional female RFU Rugby referee, and The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Exeter, Lesley Robson.
The Representation of the People Act extended suffrage in the UK by 14 million voters […] and granted women the vote for the first time.
When it was passed on the 6th of April 1918, The Representation of the People Act extended suffrage in the UK by 14 million voters. The legislation granted women the vote for the first time, provided that they were over the age of 30 and met property ownership requisites. The act also extended suffrage to all men over the age of 21, resulting in 5.6 million new male voters.
Devon and the city of Exeter played an active role in suffrage campaigns following the turn of the century, with both the suffragist group The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), and the more militant Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) active in the region. Notably, in 1913, the WSPU’s founder Emmeline Pankhurst, was arrested and sent to Exeter prison, where she went on hunger strike.