100 years of (some) women having the right to vote in the UK should be a cause for celebration, a time to look back and see all that has been achieved by women's greater participation in society, that our voices have been heard.
So Just Shop's mission is economic empowerment of women. That by giving women economic independence it gives us a greater say in our communities. I think this is as true now as in 1918. No one can deny the role of the very brave campaigners for our right to vote but, equally important in the decision, was the roles that women took up to keep our country and economy running throughout the first world war. We have seen time and again in the communities we work in across the world how economically empowering women gives them a more strident voice in their communities, demanding safe water supply, sanitation and education services for them and their families.
Sadly, many women today still cannot vote. The barriers tend not to be legislative but practical. In the UK, many women (and people) with disabilities are unable to access voting booths or understand they have a right to vote. Across the world, when women get married their ID documents often get taken from them by senior family members, limiting their ability to vote independently. In many communities worldwide women are expected or corralled into voting as their husbands do or as community members tell them to.
Voting for me is both a right and a privilege, every time I vote I think of those who fought, and in some cases died, for me to stand up and be counted. I think of all of those who are unable to do as I can. Little by little, day by day, women are claiming our place as equals in the world. The right to vote is one part of that, the ability to vote another. We must never take this for granted.