Emmeline Pankhurst being arrestedFebruary 6th is the 125th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act  ─ a piece of UK electoral reform that gave the vote to property-owning women over the age of 30 but it wasn’t until 1928 that all women in the UK, aged 21 and over, enjoyed the same voting rights as men. Less than a hundred years ago.

In the US, in theory, women were given the vote in 1920 though, in practice, black women had to wait until 1965 to exercise that right because of discriminatory legislation in certain states. New Zealand wins the prize for being the first self-governing nation to grant women the right to vote ─ in 1923. Most recent is France who waited until 1944 to allow full female suffrage.

The right to vote, and not just for women, was won after years of struggle. The suffragists believed in peaceful protest while the motto of the suffragettes was ‘Deeds not Words’. Their actions were dramatic and sometimes violent: Emily Davison threw herself under the King’s horse at Epsom Derby and her name lives on today as does that of the Pankhursts  Emmeline (seen here being arrested) and her daughter Christabel advocated militant tactics with which the other daughters Sylvia and Adela disagreed, causing huge family rifts.

Political struggle and the backdrop of a civil war with families torn apart have been strong themes in our anthologies. These stories have transported us to different countries and times, including Cyprus, in the era before partition: Michelle Christophorou’s ‘The Making of Koupepia’ (2022); Greece, during the reign of the Colonels: ‘Silver Foil’ by Eleni Polychronakos (2019); Sri Lanka in the mid-80s: ‘Rice on a Banana Leaf’ by Samantha Munasing (2020) and many have linked to The Troubles (the conflict in Northern Ireland), such ‘White Flags’ by Rupert Dastur (2018).

So, perhaps a story with conflict, protest, activism and division as a central theme for this year’s award? We do, of course, accept any genre, up to 2200 words until April 24th.

Jane Riekemann