"I remember the time, Countess, when you advocated the Rights of Women ..."

Mary Wollstonecraft
Public DomainMary Wollstonecraft - Credit: John Opie (1761–1807)
Mary Wollstonecraft, a British writer and philosopher, published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792, arguing that it was the education and upbringing of women that created limited expectations.  She attacked gender oppression, pressing for equal educational opportunities, and demanded "justice!" and "rights to humanity" for all.  Along with her British contemporaries Damaris Cudworth and Catherine Macaulay she started to use the language of rights in relation to women, arguing that women should have greater opportunity because like men, they were moral and rational beings.

A Punch cartoon mocking John Stuart Mill's efforts to give women the right to vote
Public DomainA Punch cartoon mocking John Stuart Mill's efforts to give women the right to vote - Credit: Punch 1867
John Stuart Mill, in his 1869 essay The Subjection of Women, wrote: "We are continually told that civilization and Christianity have restored to the woman her just rights. Meanwhile the wife is the actual bondservant of her husband; no less so, as far as the legal obligation goes, than slaves commonly so called."

Mill argued that women should be given the right to vote.  Suffrage became the primary cause of the British women’s movement at the beginning of the 20th century.  Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst led the public campaign on women's suffrage.  In 1918 a bill was passed allowing women over the age of 30 to vote.