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The Representation of the People Act 1918 was a milestone piece of legislation which created almost universal male suffrage and for the first time allowed some women to vote at Parliamentary elections. Celebrations have focused on this centenary but it would be another ten years before the Equal Franchise Act was passed.

The Equal Franchise Act was passed on 2 July 1928 and gave women the vote on an equal basis with men.

As a result of the 1918 Act 8.4 million women were granted the Parliamentary franchise. However, this excluded an estimated 22% of women over 30 or over, for example those who lived as domestic servants or with their parents. It also excluded all women under the age of 30 regardless of their circumstances, many of whom had been war workers supporting the war effort.

The Equal Franchise Act was passed on 28 June 1918 and received Royal Assent on 2 July 1928.

About 5 million additional women became eligibe to register to vote in Parliamentary elections, taking the total to about 14.2 million, compared with about 12.2 million men.

The Equal Franchise Act was one of a number of measures passed in the years after women first won the vote that advanced women’s rights. Others equalised property inheritance rights; reformed the marriage and divorce laws, and raised the age of consent and the age of marriage to 16 years.

Key statistics on women in Parliament and politics are summarised in the Library briefing produced for the debate on International Women’s Day.


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