British women won the right to vote 100 years ago after an intense struggle marked by a violent fringe campaign that shocked the nation, but helped to change the world.
On Feb. 6, 1918, the Representation of the People Act became law and added to the voting roll about 8 million women who were aged over 30 and met other conditions.
It was not until 1928 that British women won the same voting rights as men, but it was a major step that put the nation ahead of some contemporaries, such as France.
Among those involved in the decades-long British campaign, the Suffragettes stand out for militant acts that were unprecedented in their day, although their influence is still debated.
Suffragettes chained themselves to railings, broke shop windows and blew up mail boxes as part of their fight.
They cut electricity lines, disrupted meetings and even bombed the house of a government minister.
It was a deliberate move into militancy preached by the group’s founder, Emmeline Pankhurst.
In the most shocking act, Suffragette Emily Davison became a martyr to the cause when she was killed throwing herself under the king’s horse at the 1913 Derby.
She was convinced “one great tragedy... would put an end to the intolerable torture of women,” Pankhurst wrote in her 1914 autobiography My Own Story.
Hundreds of Suffragettes were jailed, but they continued their protest in prison by refusing to eat.
Many were force fed, a harsh practice that ended in 1913 with legislation that allowed authorities to release hunger-striking women prisoners when they became too weak and rearrest them when they had recovered.
Pankhurst was jailed and released 11 times.
Detractors said the actions of the Suffragettes showed that women were emotional and irresponsible, and therefore not fit to vote.
Some historians credit the role of women in World War I as more important in securing voting rights than militant activism, but in 1999 Time magazine named Pankhurst as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.
She “shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back,” it said.
“The militant campaign was absolutely essential to moving the vote forward,” University of Lincoln history professor Krista Cowman said. “There was 50 years of peaceful campaigning before that that really hadn’t done anything.”
When World War I broke out in 1914, Pankhurst called a halt to the militant campaign in support of the government’s war effort.
Women stepped into crucial jobs vacated by men sent to fight.
In a revolution for their role in society, they worked in fields, factories and beyond.
“Many of these feminists hoped that patriotic support of the war would enhance the prospects for women’s suffrage after the war,” historian Joshua Goldstein wrote in War and Gender.
As the war wound down, the first steps toward equal right votes were allowed.
“It’s very much a start,” said Cowman, who was historical adviser to the 2015 movie Suffragette. “There’s a whole raft of legislation that comes in Britain in the 1920s that’s about improving lives for women, like divorce law reform, equal access to professions.”
While the Suffragette campaign attracted much publicity, Britain was not the first nation to enfranchise women.
New Zealand led the way in 1893, followed by Australia in 1902, Finland in 1906 and Norway in 1913.
In the period between the start of World War I and World War II, women in more than two dozen nations acquired voting rights, including the Soviet Union in 1917, Germany in 1918, the US in 1920, and Brazil and Thailand in 1934.
Other nations lagged behind, though, including France, whose own Suffragettes — influenced by their British sisters, but without the militancy — eventually gained the right to vote in 1944.
Switzerland took until 1971 and voting remains restricted for women, as well as men, in Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered