"What struck me was how many of the issues they face in 1912, women still face today," Carey Mulligan told PEOPLE
Credit: Andrew Toth/FilmMagic

When Carey Mulligan decided to portray one of the pioneering foot soldiers in England’s feminist movement in the early 20th century, she knew she had an important story to tell.

But Mulligan wasn’t expecting the struggles women face in Suffragette to still resonate much now.

“What struck me was how many of the issues they face in 1912, women still face today,” Mulligan told PEOPLE at the Suffragette premiere Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

“Women in that time had little access to education, we still have that problem now. Sexual violence was rife, that’s still happening now. Domestic violence. There was no women in Parliament, now only 22 percent of National Parliament is made up of women,” she explained.

Mulligan, 30, notes that while women have made strides throughout history – one being depicted in this film – there are still parts of the world that need vast improvement.

“Although we feel like we’ve come a long way in the Western world, so many other parts of the world are still so far behind,” she said.

Suffragette follows Maud (Mulligan), a working mother who joins a feminist movement led by Emmeline Pankhust (Meryl Streep) to lobby against injustice and advocate for women’s right to suffrage.

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One of Mulligan’s favorite aspects of the film is that her character is a mother to a son, and her character is fueled by a passion to fight for equality for all – not just women.

“I think the easy choice would have been to have her have a daughter. Then, for all of her choices to be made because she knew that she was going to make the best life for her daughter,” she explained. “But she makes those choices because she wants to build a better society for her son. That message that feminism or equality isn’t just for girls, this should be everyone’s issue.”

Suffragette hits theaters Friday.