Winning the right to vote 100 years ago on February 6 1918, women may have hoped it would bring equality at last.
That first hard-won victory came after years of bitter struggle in which suffragettes endured imprisonment, interrogation and worse for the cause.
The Representation of People Act gave the vote to women over 30 who owned a house, or were married to someone who did.
It meant 13 million were still disenfranchised – but it was a start, and 10 years later the vote was extended to all women over 21, giving them the same voting rights as men.
But 100 years on from that first great milestone, there are still battles to be won, reports our sister publication The Mirror .
Recent sex scandals in Hollywood and at Westminster have brought a new wave of campaigns such as #MeToo and Time’s Up, highlighting women’s continuing struggle in the workplace and the wider world.
Now an exclusive new survey commissioned by the Daily Mirror reveals that British women still feel a long way from true equality.
The study of 42,000 women, using the Google Consumer Surveys network, showed that just 19% think both sexes are treated equally.
Nearly half believe being born a man makes life easier. Some 47% of women over 65 believe this – but it rises to 61% for those aged 18 to 24.
Some 44% also think they have been discriminated against at work, rising to 63% among 18 to 24-year-olds.
And 58% say women are under pressure to look good at all times.
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said: “The pace of change is glacial, and 100 years after the first women got the vote we’re still in a position where we can’t actually use that vote to change our lives.
"Women are paid less than men, women experience violence at the hands of men at epidemic levels.
“As women we see our bodies objectified daily, and we take on the burden of childcare and care for relatives. Our daughters’ mental health is also suffering under pressure to be perfect.”
Jemima Olchawski of gender equality charity the Fawcett Society said: “We still live in a highly unequal society.
“Women hold far fewer positions of power than men. Our politics is dominated by men, business is dominated by men. The world we live in is shaped very much from a male perspective – and that has an impact on women’s lives every single day.”
Our survey also found 44% of women suspect they are paid less than male colleagues for the same work – but 79% have never raised the issue with bosses.
In April, organisations with 250 or more workers must publish any gap in pay between male and female staff.
While it is illegal to pay men and women differently for the same job, many firms have a huge pay gap caused by more men than women in more senior and better-paid positions.
Figures have shown female employees earned an average 15% less per hour at Ladbrokes and 33% less at Virgin Money. Fashion chain Phase Eight revealed a 64.8% lower average hourly rate for its female staff, which it explained by saying its male employees tended to work at its head office, where pay rates are higher, rather than in its shops.
Even at the Home Office, women are paid 10.1% lower on average, while at the BBC women’s mean hourly rate is 10.7% lower than men’s.
BBC China editor Carrie Gracie, 55, quit her prestigious post last month in protest. She later told a Commons committee: “I really feel angry about some of the things I’ve seen and heard and some of the women and the suffering they’ve gone through.”
Our survey found just 15% of women felt able to address the gender pay gap at work. Of those that did, less than a third got a pay rise.
Business, politics and media were seen as the worst industries for equality, our survey found.
Only a quarter of board chairs, presidents and chief executives in the UK are women, the EU’s latest gender equality league table shows.
The UK ranks 48th in the world for parliamentary gender equality, behind countries including Zimbabwe, Sudan and Serbia. Talking about their gender pay gap disclosure planned for April 4, Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman said: “This is a really huge, structural earthquake.”
When Ms Harman was first elected in 1982, there were still only 19 female MPs. For the first time, more than 200 women were elected last year.
But speaking up for gender equality still risks a bitter backlash.
When journalist Caroline Criado-Perez campaigned for Jane Austen to become the new face of the £10 note in 2013, she was subjected to a series of rape threats on Twitter.
Labour MP Jess Phillips revealed last year she got 600 rape and death threats from men in a single day.
She said: “You have to be a remarkable and amazing woman to rise to the top, whereas average men get there all the time. It’s depressing.”
On top of all this, women are still being judged on how they look, with 58% saying they feel under pressure to look good at all times – rising to 66% of 25 to 35-year-olds, and 71% for those aged 18 to 24.
And despite advances such as the Pill becoming available on the NHS in 1961, the legalisation of abortion in 1967 and laws allowing new parents to share leave after the birth of a child, many do not feel life is easier now than in their mum’s generation.
Only 15% believe this to be the case, while a quarter think life is even harder now.
In one of her greatest speeches, suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst said of the struggle that brought about the landmark change in the law: “Women have found a new kind of self-respect, a new kind of energy, a new kind of strength.”
She added: “You must make women count as much as men, you must have an equal standard of morals.”
As true today as it was then.
- A set of eight stamps marking the 100-year anniversary will be released by Royal Mail on February 15.
The survey results
To what extent do you agree with this statement: “In society, women are treated equally to men.”
Strongly disagree 16%
Tend to disagree 39%
Neither agree nor disagree 26%
Tend to agree 12%
Strongly agree 7%
Does being born a man make life...
No different 46%
Have you ever experienced what you felt was discrimination in the workplace for being a woman?
Yes, definitely 21%
Yes, I think so 23%
Not sure 17%
To what extent do you agree with the following statement: “Women are under pressure to look good at all times.”
Strongly disagree 5%
Tend to disagree 10%
Neither agree nor disagree 27%
Tend to agree 41%
Strongly agree 17%
To what extent do you agree with this statement: “Women are under more pressure today than they were in previous generations to look good at all times.”
Strongly disagree 7%
Tend to disagree 17%
Neither agree nor disagree 36%
Tend to agree 27%
Strongly agree 13%
Thinking specifically about your experience as a women, to what extent do you think life is easier or harder now than it was for your mother, on a scale from 1 (much harder) to 5 (much easier)
Which, if any, of the following industries you consider women to be under represented in?
None of the above 16%
How likely do you think it is that your male colleagues are being paid more than you for the same work?
Very likely 19%
Neither likely nor unlikely 24%
Very unlikely 13%
Have you ever discussed or raised the issue of a gender pay gap with your own employer?
Yes, got more pay 3%
Yes, nothing changed 6%
Yes, got parity with colleague 1%
Don’t know 6%