As one of the 490 women to be elected to the House of Commons since 1918, I’ve taken great pleasure in seeing the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which gave some women the right to stand for Parliament and vote for the first time, celebrated by people up and down the country throughout the year so far.
One of the ways people have marked this important centenary is the Equaliteas initiative, which ran from 18th June – 2nd July. The idea behind Equaliteas is that just as suffragettes held tea parties to encourage discussions about democracy and equality, we should carry on that tradition to remember their efforts today.
There were 3,111 registered Equaliteas events across the country, and I was delighted to be able to visit a tea party being held in my constituency at Bramhall Methodist Church, by Bramhall and Woodford Girlguiding. I had the chance to ask the girl guides what they thought about the achievements and progress made by the suffragettes and many inspirational women since, and the importance of voting when they are able to so that they make sure their voices are heard.
One of the best reasons for remembering how rights for women were won and have evolved is so that we can think about how to promote those values and give back to society. Girlguiding UK has over 500,000 members, and does amazing work in preparing them with skills for life.
As a former Beaver Leader myself, I know first-hand the potential groups like Girlguiding have to change lives, and the extent to which they rely heavily on volunteers to ensure that every young person who wants to take part can do so.
Following my visit to Bramhall, I raised the issue of a lack of volunteers in the House of Commons, and hope that this issue remains on the agenda. There are plenty of young people across Cheadle who want to take part in and would benefit from groups like Girlguiding UK and The Scouts, and it would be a shame for anyone to miss out on this amazing experience through a lack of volunteers. You can watch my question here: https://twitter.com/MaryRobinson01/status/1014894247269543938
I’m glad that people are celebrating how generations before us achieved our hard-won rights, and I’d encourage everyone to play their part in empowering the next generation too.