How and Why did Women Try to Win the Vote?

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  • How and Why did Women Try to Win the Vote?
    • What was the Social, Political and Legal Position of Women in the 1890s?
      • Social
        • Many working-class women had jobs as well as running the home, e.g. in the textile industry
          • These jobs tended to be low paid and in poor conditions
        • Middle-class women were less likely to work outside the home - access to higher education and professional jobs was limited
        • Queen's College, London was opened in 1848 to train female teachers
        • Florence Nightingale established nursing as a respectable job
          • She set up a nursing school where women could train to become nurses
      • Political
        • Women were not allowed to vote in national elections
        • After 1894 married women could vote in council elections and sit on the councils
      • Legal
        • 1857 - The Matrimonial Clauses Act
          • Gave women the right to get a divorce (providing their husband had committed an offence such as adultery)
        • 1870 - The Married Women's Property Act
          • Gave women the right to keep their earnings when they got married, not straight to the husband
            • Extended in 1882to allow women to keep their property in addition
        • 1886 - The Married Women (Maintenance in Case of Desertion) Act
          • Meant that husbands had to pay for their ex-wives. The Guardianship of Children Act also meant that mothers could remain legal guardians of their children following divorce
    • What were the Arguments For and Against Female Suffrage?
      • For
        • Women pay taxes just like men
          • Women should able to influence MPs on how that money is spent
        • Women already vote in local elections and serve on local government bodies - the vote is the next step forward
        • Man uneducated working class men can vote while well-educated 'respectable' women can't
        • Women have special skills and expertise - they can advise MPs on areas such as the home
        • Women have increasing opportunities in education and work - the vote should come next
        • Women are the spiritual spine of the nation - they are the churchgoers. MPs need to show Christian leadership
        • There are many single women and widows who bear the same responsibilities = as men
        • Parliament's decisions affect both men and women so surely its only fair for women to get to vote
      • Against
        • Giving respectable women the vote will cause them to neglect their family duties - only the undesirable classes will have children
        • Giving the vote to women will mean giving it to all men, including layabouts and riffraff
        • Why worry about the vote? there are much more pressing concerns such as Ireland and trade unions
        • Women do fight in wars for their country, so they shouldn't have a say whether the country goes to war
        • Women are pure and should be protected from the grubby world of politics
        • Women are irrational - they are too emotional to be trusted with the vote
        • It is mainly middle-class women campaigning for the vote - they will have little interest in helping the lower classes
        • Women and men have different interests and responsibilities - it is the role of women to look after the family at home and the role of men to debate and make decisions
    • How Effective were the Activities of the Suffragists and the Suffragettes?
      • The Suffragists
        • National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS)
          • Founded 1897
          • Leader - Millicent Fawcett
          • Tactics were persuasion, meetings and petitions to parliament
        • Decided to support the Labour Party
        • Organised a peaceful pilgrimage from Carlisle to London
        • Lead a deputation to persuade the PM after the 1911 setback in Parliament
      • The Suffragettes
        • Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU)
          • Founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in in 1903, with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia
          • They thought the Suffragists did things too slowly - they wanted results fast
          • They didn't mind getting arrested - this gained them some respect and showed their sincerity
            • Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney were put in prison for a week after heckling Sir Edward Grey who was speaking at a meeting in Manchester
          • They hoped the Liberal Government after 1906 would be sympathetic, encouraged by the 1907 Qualification of Women Act
            • This gave women the right to become county and borough councillors or mayors
        • Chained themselves to railings outside Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
        • Physically assaulted politicians - PM Asquith was near raped on a golf course
        • Destroyed paintings in the National Gallery and smashed shop windows
        • Made arson attacks on post boxes, churches and railway stations
          • In 1913,  they bombed Lloyd-George's house
        • 1913 - Emily Wilding Davison throws herself under the King's Horse at the Epsom Derby. She dies of her injuries
      • The Government sent many Suffragettes to prison, where they were often forced-fed following hunger strikes
        • The Suffragettes
          • Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU)
            • Founded by Emmeline Pankhurst in in 1903, with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia
            • They thought the Suffragists did things too slowly - they wanted results fast
            • They didn't mind getting arrested - this gained them some respect and showed their sincerity
              • Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney were put in prison for a week after heckling Sir Edward Grey who was speaking at a meeting in Manchester
            • They hoped the Liberal Government after 1906 would be sympathetic, encouraged by the 1907 Qualification of Women Act
              • This gave women the right to become county and borough councillors or mayors
          • Chained themselves to railings outside Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
          • Physically assaulted politicians - PM Asquith was near raped on a golf course
          • Destroyed paintings in the National Gallery and smashed shop windows
          • Made arson attacks on post boxes, churches and railway stations
            • In 1913,  they bombed Lloyd-George's house
          • 1913 - Emily Wilding Davison throws herself under the King's Horse at the Epsom Derby. She dies of her injuries
        • The so called 'Cat and Mouse Act' was passed in 1913. Hunger strikers were now released and rearrested when fit again
    • How Did Women Contribute to the War Effort?
      • In the absence of men, women took over many of their jobs
        • Vital jobs which kept the country running: bus conductors, drivers, postal workers, farm labourers and coal deliverers
        • They also worked in munitions factories and engineering workshops. This work was technical and directly related to the war effort
        • Women joined female branches of the armed forces and worked as nurses in military hospitals

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