It’s less than 100 years since the hard-fought battle for universal suffrage for women was won in the UK. (In 1928, since you ask).
Did you know that it wasn’t until 1918 that (most) UK men over 21 got the vote? Again, less than 100 years ago, and people had fought for it for many years. The Peterloo Massacre in 1819 was a rally to call for universal male suffrage.
Maybe, like me, you have a strong memory of the first free election when all adults in South Africa could vote – only 21 years ago in 1994. Our sons were little boys then. I well remember sitting them in front of the TV coverage and telling them what an important moment it was. I wonder if they remember it now.
This is a photo of just one of the long snaking queues to vote. People stood for hours and hours to be able to use their vote. The image seems to be everywhere on the internet, I can’t find who it belongs to so do please let me know if you know. I hope they don’t mind me reproducing it again).
Throughout the years when they were growing up we always took the boys with us when we voted, whether it was local elections or general elections, and reminded them just how very precious our vote is.
So I was shocked to read recently that in the UK, at the last general election (2010), 9 million women and 8 million men didn’t vote.
17 million eligible UK adults who didn’t use their vote.
You may not like the choices open to you. You may not like our voting system. But it’s what we have right now. The outcome will make a massive difference to each and every one of us, and to our children and their children, whether we vote or we don’t vote.
Your voice matters. Your voice can at least be counted, even if the party you vote for doesn’t win. You deserve to have your voice heard.
Please, I’m asking you to make sure that you are registered, and that everyone else you know who is eligible is registered to vote. You have until 20 April 2015 to register. It takes about 5 minutes. I’ll make it easy for you – here’s a link.
Voting is one of the most important things you can ever do. It really, really matters.