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Historic day as borough celebrates 100th anniversary of votes for women

12 February 2018

Councillor Janet Emsley at in front of flag.

A special flag was raised outside Rochdale Town Hall to celebrate 100 years since millions of women were first given the vote in the UK.

The Mayor of Rochdale, Councillor Ian Duckworth, a number of councillors and campaigners for equality gathered to mark the historic anniversary.

There is a proud history of local women campaigning for the right to vote with the Rochdale branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union active in the suffragette movement throughout the early part of the 20th century.

The historic 1918 parliamentary act enfranchised women aged 30 and over but it wasn’t until a decade later that all women aged 21 and over were given the vote on equal terms with men.

In the subsequent 100 years, 3 women have represented parliamentary constituencies across the borough. Liz Lynne was MP for Rochdale 1992-1997, Laura Fitzsimons served Rochdale in parliament from 1997-2005 and Liz McInnes has been the MP for Heywood and Middleton since 2014.

Scores of women have served as borough councillors over the last century and today over a third of councillors representing Rochdale Borough Council are female.

'Rochdale had a very active and vocal movement campaigning for equality and votes for women'

The council will be celebrating the anniversary of votes for women with events throughout the year to mark the successful struggle for emancipation.

Councillor Janet Emsley, cabinet member for culture, said, “Rochdale had a very active and vocal movement campaigning for equality and votes for women. The Pankhursts regularly spoke at meetings in the borough and a large number of local women attended a mass rally at Hyde Park in 1908.

“The 1918 act was the result of years of campaigning and was a step towards full emancipation. We can be proud that so many women, and men, across the borough played their part in bringing about such an historic vote.

“100 years on so much has been achieved in bringing about equality but there is still a lot to do. Rochdale has a proud campaigning past and we should never waver as we continue to strive for greater equality, justice and equal rights. It was great to see so many people at Rochdale Town Hall to celebrate this momentous day.”