Advances Towards Equality

Some of the major events affecting the lives of our female forebears

1844 The 1844 Poor Law Amendment Act and the 1845 Bastardy Act empowers mothers to apply to Petty Session Courts for maintenance money from the father of their illegitimate child.
1857 The Matrimonial Causes Act makes it possible to petition for a divorce in civil courts, so the process is newly accessible to middle-class women.
1860 Florence NIGHTINGALE establishes the world’s first secular Nursing School at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, making the profession more respectable for women.
1868 The first British women are admitted to the University of London to gain a university education following a nationwide campaign to improve women’s access to further education.
1876 The 1876 Medical Act allows women to be licensed to practice medicine for the first time, and register with the General Medical Council of Britain.
1882 The 1882 Married Women’s Property Act finally gives wives full legal control over their property and money that they earn.
1895 London born Lilian LINDSAY qualifies as Britain’s first female dentist.  She studied in Edinburgh as English dental schools would not admit female students.
1903 Emmeline PANKHURST set up the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) as a militant organisation campaigning for women’s suffrage.
1917 The Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps are formed as branches of the Armed Forces.
1928 The 1928 Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act extends voting rights to women on the same terms as men, so women over the age of 21 appear in electoral registers for the first time.