OCR History - British Depth Study (WOMEN)

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Women ­ British Depth Study
Women in the 1890s
Most women did not go to school or University
They spent their lives raising children and running the house
Women were 2nd class citizens
Legal Rights
For a long time married women weren't protected by law ­ women had no legal rights to their children
In 1857 The Matrimonial Clauses Act made it easier for divorce in a normal court ­ you had to prove
adultery, cruelty or desertion
o Previously only parliament could grant divorce
In 1870 The Married Women's Property Act gave the women a right to keep their earning when they got
o Previously all earnings went to husband
o In 1882 it was extended to allow women to keep their own property
In 1884 Married women were recognised as their own individual and not a possession of their husbands
In 1886 The Married Women Act said that women who had been deserted had to be paid maintenance by
the husband
In 1886 The Guardianship of Children Act allowed women to be legal guardians of their own children ­ and
allowed them to manage any property the children had
Social Rights
Women earned less than men and worked very long hours in sweat trades
They were barred from several professions like Law and Medicine
Middle Class women had some access to higher education and professional jobs ­ but this was limited
o Queens College London opened to train women as teachers in 1848
o Florence Nightingale made Nursing respectable for women and she opened a training college for
In 1891 Free and Compulsory education for all boys and GIRLS
In 1894 The Parish Council Act allowed women to serve on urban and parish councils
In 1896 The Factory Act bans employment of women after 4 weeks after having a child
o In 1901 workings hours were reduced for women by 1 hour (under the Factory Act)
Political Rights
Women could not vote in National elections
In 1894 The Parish Council Act allowed married women to vote for parish or district councils
Viewpoints on women voting
Most people thought it was acceptable:
o Public sphere is for men and the home is for women ­ women's role is to look after their husbands
and children ­ if they got to vote they could neglect their families
o Most people thought women weren't rational and couldn't make decisions ­ also too emotional
o Most politicians thought that you needed to be a householder (owner etc.) to vote ­ not many
women were ­ only a few rich ones
o If they gave rich women the vote ­ they would probably vote Conservative so the Liberals didn't
want to give them the vote
o Women didn't fight in wars ­ so they shouldn't get a vote
o More pressing issues of the day ­ women getting the vote wasn't as important

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The Suffrage Movement
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) - Suffragists
Formed in 1897 by Millicent Fawcet
Most were middle class women
They were non ­ militant and most of their tactics were persuasions, meetings and letters to government
Arguments for the Vote
Rights were improving for women ­ the vote was the natural step forward
o For example by 1900 they could vote in local elections and be councillors
o They could vote for Poor Law guardians and become them
o Women could…read more

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Protests got more extreme
led a deputation (went to see) to the PM
Pledged support to the Labour party for the next election
Organised a peaceful march from Carlisle to London
Offered free membership to working women
Escalated a campaign of violence ­ usually against property:
o They smashed windows
o Arson on post-boxes, churches and railway stations
o Bombed churches ­ In 1913 they bombed DLG's house (he was a sympathizer)
o Damaged cricket pitches and golf courses
o Slashed paintings at…read more

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2 million less workers than we needed and women campaigned to get these jobs
Women did well at the jobs and in positions of responsibility ­ quashing men's viewpoints
Worked in munitions factories etc.…read more


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