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Your Story, Our History: Parliament launches films for IWD

CELEBRATION: Your Story, Our History (Photo credit: YouTube)

TO MARK 100 years since some women gained the right to vote, Parliament has released a series of hard-hitting films to highlight how four key Acts changed the lives of women.

Four women have agreed to speak directly to camera in highly personal interviews about the difference the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003), National Health Service Act (1946), Abortion Act (1967) and Representation of the People Act (1918), have made to their lives.

It is the third instalment of Your Story, Our History film series, which explores how the UK Parliament’s legislation changes lives.

Sarian Kamara’s story looks at the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 from a personal perspective. Born in Sierra Leone, Sarian, a community development worker and lead FGM campaigner talks about how the Act has protected her and her children from FGM since moving to the UK.

Sarian commented: “Living in the UK now I feel amazing that my new born daughter will be protected…. I want every corner of the UK to hear about the Female Genital Mutilation Act, that can protect women and girls from going through what we are going through now.”

Therese Ramstedt, 27, and Courtenay Johnson, 25, discuss the Act that first established the National Health Service from a woman’s perspective, as well as the 1967 Abortion Act and the impact that both have had on women in Britain.

Courtenay, a theatre producer, from London, said: “The NHS Act and what it stands for was absolutely essential to allowing me to even consider keeping the baby…It doesn’t matter what you choose but it’s so important that we have that choice.”

Therese, a writer, performer and singer, from London, said: “When I found out I was pregnant I think the immediate feeling was panic and anxiety. In both our stories it goes to show that the NHS Act 1946 and the Abortion Act 1967 help us to make a choice and an informed choice.”

The series also explores the Representation of the People Act 1918. Tobi Oredein, 28, a journalist from London, shares her first voting experience and looks at the impact of women’s franchise on women from all walks of life.

Tobi commented: "I think the Representation of the People Act in 1918 was key to women’s empowerment because it was a step to being a little bit more equal, a little more visible… it was a step, a stepping stone in women’s rights.”

The #YourStoryOurHistory videos were commissioned by Parliament’s Education and Engagement Service as part of their ongoing programme of public engagement, which aims to demonstrate how Parliament affects people’s day to day lives, engage people the institution has not yet reached, and diversify the range of people who are involved with the work of Parliament.

UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign was launched at a reception in Westminster Hall on February 6, 2018. It marks the centenary of The Representation of the People Act 1918, which 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. Parliament has launched a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.

The films coincide with several other significant milestones in the fight for universal suffrage in 2018. They are:

- Representation of the People Act 1918, which gave all men over 21 and women over 30 who met a property qualification the right to vote. (100 years)

- Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 – allowing women to be MPs (100 years)

- Equal Franchise Act 1928 – giving women the vote on the same terms as men (90 years)

- Life Peerages Act 1958 – allowing women to sit in the House of Lords as life peers (60 years)
International Women’s Day is on Thursday, March 8, and celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.

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