100 years on, women still fighting to end ‘male elite’ society

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ONE hundred years since suffragette Emily Wilding Davison ran in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby, progress towards equality in Britain’s democratic institutions is still painfully slow, campaigners said.

The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equal rights for women, said inequality continues, with men still outnumbering women in Parliament as well as in positions of power in business, and continuing pay gaps between the sexes.

The comments come a century after one of the most memorable moments in the history of the battle for women’s rights.

On June 4, 1913, Emily Davison stepped in front of King George V’s horse, Anmer, running in the Epsom Derby, suffering serious injuries that led to her death four days later.

The incident proved to be a precursor to change for women in Britain. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act gave women over 30 the vote, later extended to women over the age of 21 in 1928.

Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said Davison and her fellow campaigners would be staggered by a “snail like pace of change” in Britain, where society continues to be “shaped by an elite minority of men”.

“At the current rate of change, a child born today will be drawing her pension before she has an equal say in the government of her country,” she said.

“The lack of women in Westminster and in town halls around the country amounts to a democratic deficit; the views and experiences of one half of the country are not being properly considered in the corridors of power.

“This is not just bad for women, it’s damaging to us as our society continues to be shaped by an elite minority of men and exclude the skills, experiences and ideas from the majority, including women whose lives they shape

Ms Goddard urged the Government to take equality seriously, with policies, laws and practices, including education and said it should be at the “heart of policy making”, not an afterthought.

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