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Milestone date upcoming for the vote for women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2017—for May 20, 2017

Milestone date upcoming for the vote for women

Exactly 150 years ago, on May 20, 1867, John Stuart Mill proposed an amendment in the House of Commons to the Representation of the People Bill, to delete the word “man” and insert the word “person,” which would have given women the vote.

His amendment was defeated that same day, 196 votes to 73. It took 51 more years for women to get the vote—in 1918—and only for women 30 or over.

In June 1866, he had introduced a petition for the vote for women signed by Florence Nightingale, mathematician Mary Sommerville and 1,495 other women. Many more petitions would follow, plus private members’ bills, then marches and demonstrations.

The fight for political equality continues with efforts to increase the number of women in elected bodies. The United Kingdom is in 47th place in the world, with 30% of seats in the House of Commons occupied by women. Canada is 63rd, at 26.3% and the United States is 100th, at 19.3%.

Thank you, John Stuart Mill!


What the Nightingale Society Is

What It Is

  1. The Nightingale Society is committed to promoting knowledge of Nightingale’s work and its relevance in nursing, public health, hospitals, statistics and broader social reform issues today; It encourages scholarly work on other contributors to nursing and public health, especially to improve the diversity of recognized leaders;
  2. It will publicly defend Nightingale’s reputation when attacked, notably as by the campaign to replace Nightingale by Mary Seacole as the ‘pioneer nurse,’ at St Thomas’ Hospital;
  3. It advocates the fuller coverage of Nightingale’s contributions to society in school curricula.

What It Is Not

  1. It does not oppose the honouring of Seacole for her own contribution, at an appropriate site;
  2. While it supports the inclusion of Seacole in the school curriculum, it does not support the pairing of Nightingale and Seacole, who made very different contributions.


Individual supporters are asked to sign the declaration and indicate any work they might be willing to undertake for the society, such as drafting or co-signing letters, disseminating information to other persons and organizations, organizing sessions on Nightingale in conferences or special events for the discussion of these concerns.

Institutional supporters should indicate the nature of their commitment, such as cross linking of websites, the noting of the events and activities of the society in their communications, the holding of Nightingale-based sessions at their conferences; and designate a person for ongoing contact.

Supporters who are willing to have their names listed are requested to indicate how they wish to be identified, degree, positions, etc.; for retired persons please indicate former occupation or position if appropriate. Brief statements of support would be welcome.

Show your support by replying YES in an email message.

Pass it on to colleagues who might share your concern that Nightingale’s legacy is worth remembering, applying and defending.