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  1. ITV Report

Celebrating a century of votes for women

You can watch a report by ITV's Chloe Keedy by clicking below.

February 6 marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act was passed, giving some women over 30 the right to vote in Britain.

It was the first breakthrough for campaigners following years of bitter struggle. The Suffragists, led by Millicent Fawcett, lobbied parliament peacefully. The Suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, fought using militant tactics.

The slow progress of the peaceful protesters left many women angry and in 1903 Women's Social and Political Union was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia.

A century on, Emmeline's great grand-daughter Helen Pankhurst has told ITV News that although she would be pleased with some aspects of progress for women's rights, she'd also be frustrated that things haven't moved on more.

Emmeline's great grand-daughter Helen Pankhurst Credit: ITV

We still don’t have an equal parliament; we still don’t have 50:50. Far from it in the Commons or the Lords. If you look at the legal system and how many women we have as judges, if you look at the civil servants - all the institutions of power. And then importantly if you look at the media - and the media is the lens of how we see women in politics - we are still so far away from where she would’ve wanted us to be.

– Helen Pankhurst, Emmeline Pankhurst's great granddaughter

Nancy Astor became the first female MP to take her seat in Parliament in 1919.

The next big milestone wasn’t until 1997 - when for the first time over a hundred women were voted in as MPs. Maria Eagle, elected for the first time that year, says it was a watershed moment.

Maria Eagle MP Credit: ITV Anglia

People around the country could see women being MPs, being interviewed, sitting on the green benches, participating as MPs and ministers. They realised it doesn’t just have to be white, middle aged men!' (

– Maria Eagle MP, Garston and Halewood
Therese Coffey MP for Suffolk Coastal Credit: ITV

In 2017, more than 200 women were voted in to parliament, beating a previous high of 196. However, still only a 1/3 of the total number of MPs are women.

Therese Coffey won her seat in Suffolk Coastal in 2010, becoming the first female ever to sit in it. She told ITV News, 'I have to admit some of the people who are my strongest supporters now ... they came into the room not expecting to select a woman. There are still some things where people's paradigm of what a Member of Parliament should be needs to be continually refreshed.'

Westminster will honour Suffragist Millicent Fawcett with a statue later this year. She will be the first woman to stand on a pedestal in Parliament Square.

When I think of my grandmother and great-grandmother I feel so proud of them. Pride in that perseverance, pride in the degree to which they committed to the change and pride in the fact that the world has actually changed because of everything they have done.'

– Helen Pankhurst