THIS year marks 100 years since the 1918 Representation of the People Act – which gave all men and some women the vote for the first time – and the UK Parliament has organised a 12-month programme of events relating to the anniversary.

The Vote 100 programme ( was officially launched on Tuesday at what was the largest gathering of UK women politicians ever, and includes events and activities commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.

The Representation of the People Act extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and to the first women - making this one of the most important centenaries in British democratic history.

It was a vital step towards the rights women have today, and the centenary of the Act is an important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought – and in some cases died – for equality.

2018 also marks the anniversaries of three other significant milestones in the fight for universal suffrage: the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 – allowing women to be MPs (100 years); the Equal Franchise Act 1928 – giving women the vote on the same terms as men (90 years); and the Life Peerages Act 1958 – allowing women to sit in the House of Lords as life peers (60 years).

Sadly, and as recent events such as the Weinstein scandal highlight starkly, we all know there is still so much more to do in terms of equality for women and girls in this country and across the world, and I look forward to continuing to work to ensure we create an equal society here at home.

I’d encourage schools and community groups to get involved in debating and celebrating the anniversaries. Throughout 2018 there will be a major exhibition in Parliament – “Voice and Vote” – as well as a programme of talks and tours in Westminster, and events nationwide.

These include ‘EqualiTeas’, where the aim is for schools and community groups to get together over a cuppa to share, debate and celebrate the anniversary of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act. It runs June 18-July 2, and you can find out more at

And UK Parliament Week runs in November - you can already register an event or activity and receive a free kit including all the materials you’ll need to take part. Find out more at