Today is the 100th anniversary of the UK’s ‘Representation of the People Act’, which gave (some) women (over 30 and living in their own home) the right to vote. It also extended the franchise to a wider group of men.
Now in the UK, any woman over the age of 18 has the right to vote. We have a female head of state and Prime Minister. However, we also live in a country where women are under-represented in most other positions of power. This ranges from parliament to the boardroom. There is also growing recognition that gender equality is a wider issue and that the efforts of privileged white women is only part of the story, even if it is acknowledged as important. Let’s remember and celebrate that things got better 100 years ago, but not forget that we still have a way to go.
In the UK, the Abortion Act 1967 made termination of pregnancy up to 28 weeks’ gestation legal. There has been tinkering around the edges with this, and of course Northern Ireland is currently exempt, which sees many women still obtain abortions, but privately in the mainland.
To the Teenager who thinks
She’s just not ready to be a parent.
To the thirty-something year old who knows
They never will be.
To the Mum of three who feels
That she is already so stretched,
That she just doesn’t have it in her
To keep another whole.
To the nulliparous (childless) woman,
With a freshly painted nursery on standby,
As she lies back and begins to comprehend
The ultrasound image and the heartbreak it conveys.
To those who can’t.
Don’t want to.
Not right now or maybe ever.
To each and every one of you.
They are yours alone to make.