LONDON — In April, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap general election to be held on June 8.
The date, for some, was significant. It was on June 8, some 104 years earlier, that suffragette Emily Wilding Davison lost her life fighting for women’s right to vote, crushed under the weight of the king’s horse as it ran the Epsom Derby. Davison is believed to have thrown herself under the animal in protest. Whether she sought to take her own life during the stunt is still debated to this day. However, her message left no gray areas: Give women the right to vote.
On election day 2017, hundreds took to Twitter to honor Davison on the anniversary of her death. Tweets remembering her bravery and resilience were accompanied by two poignant hashtags: #UseYourVote and #YourVoteMatters — a stark reminder to British women to do their democratic duty and do it freely.
On Thursday, the official U.K. Parliament Twitter account also referenced Davison's death, reminding its 1 million followers to vote.
“Emily Davison died on this day. She died trying to garland the King’s horse with a ‘Votes for Women’ sash. Use the vote she died to win,” read one of the many tweets commemorating Davison.
As Thursday turned to Friday and results across the country were called, history was made: More women had been elected than ever before.
With over 200 women elected, the record number of female lawmakers shattered the previous high of 196 women elected in 2015.
More women in parliament than ever before. 72% 18-25 year olds turning out to vote. Whatever happens now, progress has been made! #GE2017
— Jessica Howard (@jessjaynehow) June 9, 2017
Whatever your views on the election results, pause to rejoice that Britain has elected more than 200 female MPs for the first time.
— Owen Barder (@owenbarder) June 9, 2017
History continued to be made in Britain on election night, with Preet Kaur Gill becoming the first Sikh woman ever to be elected to Britain's House of Commons.
— Harjinder S Kukreja (@SinghLions) June 9, 2017
Gill, of the Labour Party, will represent Birmingham Edgbaston and won with over 6,000 more votes than her Tory opponent. Her win was celebrated widely, with many hailing Gill's “stunning” victory as a “big night for the Sikh community.”
The historic milestone for women was not just being celebrated online but in schools and communities nationwide. “I am delighted that this election has seen a record number of female MPs voted in to Parliament,” said Delphine Desbenoit, a diversity coordinator at an all girls’ school in London. “I constantly push our students to fight for gender equality, to follow their dreams and to break the glass ceiling to achieve them.”
When asked how Thursday’s result might impact her students, she said: “I hope that young women will feel inspired and empowered by this result and get even more involved in politics.”
Exactly 104 years ago, Emily Davison died so women could vote. There are now over 200 females in Britain's Parliament.