On 23 December 1919, an Act of Parliament ensured the RCVS could open its register to women, and members of the BVA visited the Parliamentary Archives to mark the centenary occasion.
The Sex Disqualification Removal Act 1919 allowed women to enter chartered accountancy, the civil service and legal professions, as well as practice veterinary science.
It also allowed women to achieve degrees from universities, and in 1922 Aleen Cust became the first woman to be recognised as a female veterinary surgeon by the RCVS.
BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said: “I am honoured to be a female president celebrating this centenary. Thanks to those women who went before me I have been able to join this amazing profession and do a job I love.
“Their determination paved the way for change for which I am eternally grateful, and gave me, and the other four female BVA presidents before me the opportunity to represent our fantastic profession.”
She added: “Seeing the act which made this possible in person was an emotional experience for me and I know that my fellow officers were also delighted to be allowed access to a document which has had such a tremendous impact on our profession.
“Like me, Aleen Cust had only ever wanted to be one thing. One hundred years ago she was working as vet but not legally recognised as one. Today we celebrate women in our profession, but we’ve still got a way to go on equality, diversity and inclusion. We’re up for the challenge.”
Women now account for some 60% of vets on the register, and around 80% of veterinary students.