How the Mail chartered the progress of women's rights over 125 years

We will get the vote! Victory for the Suffragettes, the first IVF birth, and the reinvention of the housewife… how the Mail chartered the progress of women’s rights over 125 years

From launch day onwards, women have been at the beating heart of the Daily Mail and what it stands for. Our first edition featured a dedicated women’s page, despite the sneers of rival publications.

And reporting of female issues throughout the past 125 years of our history has reflected not only society’s attitude but the changing face of women.

Women have always made up the largest slice of our readers – and have been among our bravest and finest writers and contributors. It was surely no accident that one of the paper’s great advertising slogans was: ‘Every woman needs her Daily Mail.’

Over the past week we have been celebrating our landmark anniversary with special pull-outs. Today, it is the role women have played in making the news and reporting it. Their stories are threaded through the fabric of the paper, but we are presenting them afresh with modern headlines and coloured photographs, as we would today.

In 1900 we sent a woman to war – Lady Sarah Watson, an aunt of Winston Churchill, reporting from the besieged town of Mafeking during the Boer War. We sympathetically covered the rise of the Suffragettes with their demand for votes for women, cheered the first female cross-Channel swimmer (a teenage American), asked whether the corset should be abolished and stood at the forefront of the equal pay for equal work campaign.

We championed Margaret Thatcher, our first female prime minister, and in 1978 we revealed the story of the birth of Louise Brown – Britain’s first test-tube baby – as a scientific breakthrough that gave childless couples hope. And in Lynda Lee-Potter we had quite simply the finest woman columnist of her and any era.



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