The widening of the franchise in 1918 was even more complex than your recent correspondents suggest (Letters, 12 June). Women did not gain the vote in 1918: we regained it. Women had the vote on the same terms as men before the Reform Act of 1832, but very few women held land on terms that allowed them to vote. Also, women only lost the vote in parliamentary elections in 1832: we continued to vote in local elections. After the Married Women’s Property Acts in the late 19th century, many more women could vote.
There was a lot of doublethink about local government being about things like education, health and welfare – “woman’s proper sphere” – and the Westminster parliament being about war and finance – “only men could understand these”.
This is not just historical nitpicking. We had the right to vote. We lost it. We lost it in the name of reform, in spite of some determined campaigning. Rights that we thought were ours can be lost again – the struggle for emancipation and equality has to go on.
Professor Emerita Maddy Gray
• It was wonderful to read in Monday’s editorial (Stitched, splendid, fluttering in the breeze: banners still have power, 11 June) just how important the role of handmade textiles have been to women’s suffrage. So many banners were made solely for Sunday’s parades – and they made a huge impact, which was graphically described. We are now wondering whether it might be possible for at least some of them to be collected together and displayed so that they can continue to be admired, possibly in a number of (large) venues across the country.
Helen Jones Secretary
Brenda King Chair, the Textile Society
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