On 27 April 1992 Betty Boothroyd was elected as the first woman Speaker in the House of Commons in its 700-year history. MPs broke with protocol and stood to applaud this historic landmark vote.
Other great firsts for women over the last 100 years include…
Nancy Astor was the first woman to take a seat in Parliament in 1919. She held the Conservative seat until her retirement in 1945. One of the most notable acts she introduced was the 1923 Intoxicating Liquor (Sale to Persons under 18) Bill (nicknamed ‘Lady Astor’s Bill’), which raised the legal age for consuming alcohol in a public house from 14 to 18.
It wasn’t until 1953 that a British woman topped the UK charts for the first time. Lita Roza, who originated from Liverpool, hated her chart-topping How Much Is That Doggie In The Window so much, she never performed it live!
Mary Rand broke several records in the summer Olympics of 1964 – she won the Gold Medal for long jump, breaking the world record and became the first ever British female to win an Olympic Gold in a track and field event. She remains the only British female to win three medals in a single games.
Mary Joy Langdon became Britain’s first female firefighter in 1976 after joining the East Sussex Fire Brigade. Read more about her trailblazing story in the July issue of Candis.
Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s first woman Prime Minister on 4 May 1979. She served three consecutive terms in office and remains one of the most dominant political figures of the 20th century.
On 26 May 1991 Helen Sharman became the first British woman to travel into space ahead of nearly 13,000 other applicants and was the first woman to visit the Mir space station. Since then she has kept her feet firmly on the ground!
In 1993 Former journalist and Tomorrow’s World presenter Rebecca Stephens became the first British woman to conquer Everest. She believes that everyone has their own Everest and that every individual can achieve goals beyond their wildest dreams – an inspiration to women everywhere!
The Church of England ordained its first women priests in 1994.
It wasn’t until 2010 that the first British woman walked to the North Pole unaided. 27-year-old Amelia Russell – an A&E doctor from south London – completed the walk despite dislocating her shoulder twice and resetting it herself!