Midwives Act 1902
This Act set up the Central Midwives Board. All midwives practising in England and Wales had to be properly qualified and certified under this Act.
Qualification of Women Act 1907
Women could be elected on to borough and county councils, subject to a property qualification. Women could also be elected as Mayors.
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson becomes the first woman to be elected as a Mayor, in Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
Eleanor Davies-Colley becomes the first woman Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons.
Hilda Hewlett becomes the first British woman to qualify as a pilot.
Representation of the People Act 1918
Women are given the right to vote. They must be over 30 years old and they, or their husband, must meet a property qualification.
This entitles 8.5 million women to vote but it is only 40% of the total population of women in the UK.
The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918
Women are allowed to stand in elections to be Members of Parliament.
The first woman MP is elected in the General Election of 1918. Countess Constance Markievicz was a member of Sinn Fein and won a seat in Dublin. She did not take her seat in the House of Commons.
Nancy Astor wins a by-election in December 1919. She becomes the first woman to sit in the House of Commons as a Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton. She held the seat until 1945.
Find out more about Lady Nancy Astor.
Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
A person shall not be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function… holding any civil or judicial office… or carrying on any civil profession or vocation, or for admission to any incorporated society (whether incorporated by Royal Charter or otherwise), . . .”
Women could now legally enter and practise professions they were previously barred from. This included becoming veterinary surgeons, accountants, solicitors and judges. They were also allowed to become jurors.
Ivy Williams is the first woman to be called to the English Bar in May 1922.
Helena Normanton is the second woman called to the English Bar in November 1922, but the first to practise as a barrister.
Carrie Morrison becomes the first female solicitor.
Irene Barclay qualifies as the first woman Chartered Surveyor.
Margaret Kidd is the first woman to become a member of the Faculty of Advocates (Scottish Bar)
Matrimonial Causes Act 1923
Adultery becomes the sole ground for divorce for both husband and wife. Previously the wife had to prove her husband’s adultery and additional faults.
Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928
This Act gives women equal voting rights with men. It entitles all women who are aged over 21years to vote in elections. Fifteen million women are now eligible to vote.
Margaret Bondfield becomes the first woman cabinet minister, when she is made Minister of Labour.
Education Act 1944
This Act removed the marriage bar in teaching. No woman was to be disqualified or dismissed as a teacher for being married.
The Home Civil Service removes the bar on married women employees. The Foreign Office does not remove the marriage bar until 1972.