Votes for Women

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  • Votes for Women
    • What were the different attitudes to women's votes in 1900?
      • For
        • Votes for women would improve life for all women. It would mean equal working conditions, better access to education and other benefits
        • Australia and New Zealand had given women the right to vote in national elections. In the USA, women had the right to vote in some states
        • Many women were already involved in politics at the local level, especially on boards of education and poor law boards
        • Women paid the same rates and taxes as men, so they should be able to vote for the politicians who spend those taxes
        • By the early 1900s, the vast majority of men could vote; Britain was not a democracy if 50% of the adult population was denied the vote
      • Against
        • Genders had different responsibilities or 'spheres'. Men were suited to work and politics whilst women were suited to the home and caring roles
        • Most women did not want the vote or were not interested in it. They were irrational and would not vote wisely.
        • Giving the vote to some women would mean giving the vote to all men, some of whom were not worthy of it
        • Women did not fight in wars, so they should not be able to vote for governments that might have to declare war
    • What were the differences between the Suffragettes and Suffragists membership, campaigning methods and beliefs?
      • Suffragists
        • In 1897 NUWSS formed and were led by Millicent Fawcett
        • Arguably, the NUWSS was not effective because it failed to get votes for women by 1914
        • The suffragists did manage to get women's suffrage bills proposed to Parliament several times, the closest being the Conciliation Bill, put forward in 1910 but then abandoned by the Liberals
        • They also managed to keep the issue of women's suffrage in the public eye, at a time when Prime Minister Asquith and many other MPs did not even want to consider the issue
        • They built up an impressive membership: by 1914 the NUWSS had over 400 branches and over 100,000 members
          • made up of middle class women although there were many branches in northern textile towns and a few male members of the NUWSS
        • They used propaganda, newsletters, posters, petitions , letters to MPs, held large rallies; such as the Hyde Park demonstration in 1908 and Women's Pilgrimage in June 1913
      • Suffragettes
        • Or WSPU, founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Sylvia and Christabel
        • More radical than NUWSS because it was frustrated by lack of progress - WSPU believed in direct action, it would make female suffrage a major issue and attract so much publicity that the Government couldn't ignore it
          • Direct action began in 1908 with breaking windows in Downing Street and chaining themselves to railings
          • Violent protest began again in 1912 with a campaign of arson and vandalism after the failed Conciliation Bill
    • How did people react to Suffragette violence?
      • The Suffragettes didn't achieve the vote by 1914 and divided the women's movement - from 1909 onwards the two were seperated
      • Turned some MPs against female suffrage, as well as public opinion
      • However, it meant the issue was never forgotten
      • Many women and men admired the suffering of the suffragettes during hunger strikes and assault during demonstrations
      • WSPU members were effective campaigners in publishing leaflets and their newspaper has a circulation of 40,000 by 1914
      • Suffragette treatment in prison was harsh and many went on hunger strike, to which the Government responded by force feeding - painful, degrading and potentially harmful
        • The Liberals introduced 'The Cat and Mouse' Act in 1913 which allowed hunger strikers to be released in order to recover before returning to complete their prison sentence
        • Through hunger strikes, Suffragettes gained a lot of support and sympathy
    • What was the Cat & Mouse Act and why was it introduced?
      • The Liberals introduced 'The Cat and Mouse' Act in 1913 which allowed hunger strikers to be released in order to recover before returning to complete their prison sentence
    • Who was Emily Davison?
      • Most famous incident of Suffragette violent protest on 4 June 1913
      • Emily Wilding Davison threw herself in front of the King George V's horse at Epsom Derby
        • She was seriously injured and died 4 days laters
      • She was martyred by Suffragettes and given a big funeral
    • How did both groups react to WW1?
      • Suffragettes (WSPU) worked with the government to encourage women to work, renamed newspaper 'the Brittania', rebranded themselves and demanded conscription, handing out white feathers to men who didn't serve
      • Suffragists (NUWSS) "women your country needs you" - millicent fawcett, although they opposed white feather conscription; set up an employment register to replace workers, organised hospitals on the front line but didn't forget vote: still organised meetings and petitions
      • Women on the front line: copied french system of hospitals, employing female nurses, worked for soup kitchens and Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) formed in 1918 with women working as drivers, secretaries and officials on western front
      • Women and recruitment: encouraged young men to enlist and Mother's Union published posters criticising mothers who stopped their sons joining up
      • Women and war work: Government departments took on 200,000 women during war, more resistance in industry (trade unions feared women would work for less and male wages would drop) but by the end of the war hundreds of thousands of women were working
        • Around 260,000 women worked on farms as part of Women's Land Army, helping farmers produce as much food as possible
      • Women and munitions: thousands of women worked in both private and government run munitions factories: gave women status and money but danger of explosions and chemical effect
    • What changed in the representation of the people act?
      • 6th February 1918
      • Women over the age of 30 could vote
      • Women over the age of 30 were allowed to become MPs
      • All men over 21 could vote
      • About 9 million women gained the vote, usually older better-off women; all women finally got the vote in 1928
      • Women over 21 who were married to householders or were householders could vote
    • Why did women get the vote in 1918?
      • Lloyd George replaced Asquith as Prime Minister - he was more supportive of women's suffrage
      • Things needed to change because many soldiers had lost the right to vote by being abroad for years; it was an opportunity to include votes for women
      • The war gave MPs an excuse to stop opposition - women had been so important during the war (could change minds without seeming flippant)
      • Many men were impressed with women's contribution to war effort, women had proven to be mature, sensible and capable. The country owed a lot to them
      • The Government feared women would start campaigning violently again and they couldn't lock up women who had worked so hard
      • Both the NUWSS and WSPU made women's suffrage an issue that couldn't be ignored - without them, it may not have been considered in 1918
      • Without women, Britain may have lost the war - destroying the argument that women did not fight for their country

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