What voting means to me

100 years since the first women won the right to vote, girls and women tell us what voting means to them today

02 July 2018

In 1918 the first women gained the right to vote in the UK.

But the right was only extended to women who were over 30 and owned a property. It wasn't until ten years later, with the passing of the Equal Franchise Act on 2 July 1928, that women won equal voting rights to men. Now both men and women who were over 21 could vote. 

Women fought tirelessly for the right to vote. So, to mark the date and as part of our on going Vote 100 celebrations, we asked Girlguiding members of all ages what voting means to them today. You can get involved too - share what voting means to you with us on Facebook and Twitter with #vote100.

We asked: what does voting mean to you? 

Voting means to me that your voice gets to be spread around and all your ideas get shared - Yohana, 7

'My great-great-aunt was a suffragist' - Xanthe, Brownie leader 

'I see voting both as a right and as a responsibility. It is a right that was fought hard for and must be protected. I think that, having been granted the right to vote, it's my responsibility to understand how the electoral systems work and to decide how to vote in elections.

My great-great-aunt, Dr Elizabeth Bell, a suffragist as well as the first woman in Ireland to become a doctor, was an exceptional woman. I'm incredibly grateful to her and to all the women's suffrage campaigners who fought so long and so hard to get women the vote.'

Women voting makes me feel part of this country - Sarah, 9

'Use the vote they fought for'- Holly, Guide leader

'It makes me feel so lucky. A hundred years isn't that long ago, and things have changed so much - but not enough. We need to carry the memory of the Suffragettes (and Suffragists) as we fight for equal pay, equal representation, and an end to violence against women. Use the vote they fought for.'

I feel proud that women fighted for their rights to vote - Lydia, 8

'Voting for the first time felt like a rite of passage' - Juliet, 18, Advocate

'Voting is what connects the political news I read about to my day-to-day life. It is the reason why politicians have to pay attention to the views of people like me. As an 18 year old, voting for the first time also felt like a rite of passage. By putting my cross on the ballot paper, I felt like I was claiming my right to be an active citizen of the society I live in.'

I feel very proud of the women who were fighting just for us women. I also feel happy because of this. I am very proud!' - Esmerelda, 10
It means that no matter if i'm only one person, I do have a voice and that no one can take that away from me. - Jody, The Senior Section
I think votes means that you can choose - Hiyabel, 8

'Voting is something I will not take for granted' - Kim, 17, Advocate 

'Some women have only been voting for 100 years, for many, only 90 years. For me, therefore, voting is about remembering, acknowledging and thanking the women who fought for us. Voting is appreciating the women who marched for us, who campaigned for us, who risked their lives for us. Voting is something I will not take for granted, because it reminds me of the strength of women, how far we have come, and how far we have to go.'

Knowing that women have their rights is good and fair - Maram, 9

'It's about empowerment' - Jo, Guides and Rangers leader

'It’s about empowerment; that my opinion, my thoughts, concerns and hopes are important. And that I can have input into how my group, council or country is run. Through democracy I have a say, alongside others who may think very differently to me, but my small part still counts. So, I should bother, I should consider, I should stay informed and care because I have an equal vote and it was hard fought for by the suffrage movement. I remember that every voting day.'

I feel normal. All women should vote! - Tilly, 10 
For me, when I voted for the very first time, it signified me becoming the 'independent woman of the 21st century' I was always told I'd someday become - Alannah, Brownie leader

'I feel a duty to stand up for what I believe in' - Samantha, Brownie leader

Voting, and having the right to vote and have my say, is incredibly important to me. Without equal representation women's voices and the issues which disproportionately affect women can be sidelined, which means everyone loses. Voting is my right, but also my responsibility - I feel a duty to stand up for what I believe in and vote to prioritise those issues. I've never missed voting in a general election. I feel that in a world where ruling governments seem to increasingly be turning towards intolerance and away from compassion, it is now more important than ever to exercise our rights and stand against those we feel do not represent our best interests as a country, as women, or just as people.' 

Voting means I have the right to express my opinions and have my voice heard! - Casey, The Senior Section

'When voting we should never forget the significance of this amazing achievement.' - Zoe, Brownie leader

'It is very important that we take the opportunity to exercise our right to vote in order to shape our communities and society that we live in. The introduction of the Representation of the People Act set out to address the injustice of women being unable to participate in our electoral system. I am inspired, indebted, and in awe of the power and determination of all the brave women who fought and die in order to secure our right to vote. When voting we should never forget the significance of this amazing achievement.'

You certainly have a voice! Use it! - Denise, The Senior Section

Take part in Parliament Week, 12-18 November

Parliament Week is a great chance for girls to learn more about politics and democracy. This year, to celebrate 100 years since some women got the vote, the kit includes activities exploring equality and the campaign that led to votes for women. It'll also include a Votes for Women sash.

Find out more