Oxford flies Suffragette flag marking centenary of women’s vote

The banner is a reproduction of an original flown by the Oxford Women's Suffrage Society

Oxford’s suffragettes’ flag will fly over the city’s colleges and libraries on Friday, marking exactly 100 years since the first women were allowed to vote in Britain and Ireland.

Friday will mark the centenary of the 1918 general election, which was the first election following the enfranchisement of middle-class women over the age of 30. It was also the first election in which working class men, although not working class women, were allowed to vote.

Women in the Humanities, which campaigns for gender equality in academia and conducts interdisciplinary research on gender issues, is coordinating the occasion.

A spokesperson said: “We hope that on Friday 14th December people will look out for it and remember those who campaigned tirelessly more than a century ago for women’s enfranchisement.”

The banner which will be flown on today is a reproduction of an original flown by a contingent of around 90 members of the Oxford Women’s Suffrage Society, at a major march in London in 1908. The OWSS was formed by a coalition of locals, students and academics in 1904.

Linacre College tweeted a photo of the flag flying over a college building earlier today.

Women in the Humanities also aim to shed light on the locations in Oxford which feature in the history of the suffragette movement.

For example, Millicent Fawcett addressed the Oxford Union in 1908, while feminist meetings were regularly held at Oxford’s women’s colleges, as well as Jesus College and the Town Hall. Other places in Oxford were the site of attacks by militant suffragettes and their male supporters.

Oxford’s history of feminist activism goes back to at least 1878 and the founding of Lady Margaret Hall and the Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women. By 1893 Oxford had four women’s colleges, and by 1909 there were suffrage societies at St. Hilda’s, Lady Margaret Hall and St. Hugh’s.

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More information about the history of the suffragette movement in Oxford can be found on the Women in the Humanities website.