I did a project on the suffragists and the suffragettes as part of my A Level History course.

I recall thinking that so many of the things I read about, the 1913 Cat and Mouse Act, forced-feeding, the language that was used to describe some of these women campaigning for the vote, was fascinating but thank goodness that was all way back in the past. I was a bright, bold 17-year-old taking my first steps into the adult world and I remember thinking these historical struggles were exactly that, historical. Gender equality was won and nothing could stop me taking up my place in the world.

Fast-forward more than 20 years and sadly and frustratingly we know that this is not entirely true. There remains a significant gender pay gap; women are still under-represented in politics and in many professions; women occupy only a small percentage of roles in STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and maths) and movements like #MeToo suggest that we don’t have this whole, equality of the sexes sorted, in quite the way that my 17-year-old self believed.

February 6 prompted these musings. This is the 100-year-anniversary of the Representation of People Act. This Act gave women over 30 the right to vote. It would be another 10 years before women were granted voting parity with men, but let’s not denigrate the milestone.

It also prompted my thoughts about the inspiring women from across Penarth and the Vale of Glamorgan who were involved in this struggle. The Union of Women’s Suffrage Society, the Women’s Social and Political Union and the Women’s Freedom League were represented across Cardiff and the Vale. Annie Gwen Vaughan-Jones was secretary of the Cardiff and District Women’s suffrage society and her daughter, Gwyneth became the headmistress of Barry Girls school. Hester Millicent Mackenzie was a suffragist and the first Welsh woman to stand for Parliament in 1918 and she is commemorated on the Penarth Women’s trail as is, Constance Mary Maillard a Penarth Councillor, secretary of the Penarth Suffragist Society and recipient of the British Empire Medal for her work with the Penarth district of the Women’s Voluntary Service.

In this vain, I discovered recently the Women’s Archive Wales in Swansea. Its website talks about preserving records and raising awareness about the contribution that Welsh women have made to this country’s history. As someone who thinks it is important to seek to understand our past to inform our future, this can only be a good thing.

I think about my daughter and can only hope that when she is 17, gender equality and fairness are actually sorted and her voice, her right to opportunities and her contribution, is recognised and respected.