Earlier this evening, Jordhi Nullatamby, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock joined the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at Parliament to mark 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time. During the event, Nullatamby addressed guests in Westminster Hall 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed, kicking off a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.
The event, which officially launched UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign, was the largest gathering of the UK’s women politicians ever organised. Past and present female Members of Parliament attended the event to celebrate the pioneering women and men who fought for the right to vote, as well as the contribution of women to politics in the UK.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon the Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords and Prime Minister, Theresa May, all praised the contributions UK Youth Parliament had made to public life in the UK.
Jordhi Nullatamby, 17, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock said in her address to the Vote 100 Launch:
“Before I came here this evening I was asked why the Representation of the People Act mattered to me. Why are we celebrating its centenary? The simple answer is that without it, I, a young woman, would not be here speaking to you tonight. So many other young women throughout the last one hundred years would never have voted or had a say in the government of themselves and their country. The woman Members of Parliament, Peers and Prime Minister gathered here in celebration tonight, and all of those women who preceded them, would not be here either.
“But it’s important to remember that the Representation of the People Act, given royal assent one hundred years ago today, only allowed some women over 30 and all men over 21 to vote. Despite the journey of strife taken by passionate, principled and determined women, it was only the first step in an even longer journey to equality. It took another 10 years for women to win the same voting rights as men, and still today we face inequality at every turn. The journey is not yet complete, the vision not yet realised.
“As I mentioned, I am privileged to serve as a member of the Youth Parliament. Every year we take over the House of Commons Chamber and debate the most important issues for young people across the UK. When we sit on those famed green benches we paint a more colourful, vibrant and diverse picture than when the House of Commons itself sits. Over half of MYPs are women, versus only one third of MPs. Thirty seven percent of our MYPs are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, versus only seven percent of MPs. It is my hope that one day in the near future I will vote in a general election that returns a House of Commons as diverse as our Youth Parliament.
“As I said, the journey is not complete, but we are getting there. This Parliament has the highest number of women to date, all of them doing fantastic work to represent women of all backgrounds. And maybe one day, I too will sit alongside them on those green benches.
“Let this year of celebrations inspire us to carry on campaigning, and carry on fighting for a better and more equal world for the women who follow us, just as those suffrage campaigners of 1918 fought to create a better world for us today.”
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this day one of the most important milestones in British democratic history. Opening this event as the UK’s second female Prime Minister, Mrs May reflected on the enormous progress that has been made, but also on the vital campaigning work that continues today.
UK Youth Parliament represents the changing face of modern Britain. 52% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female and 32% are from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.