Suffragists (NWUSS) and Suffragettes (WSPU).


Arguments for Women Gaining the Vote


  • Women are equal before God.
  • Women already have the vote in local elections.
  • Women pay taxes.
  • Some women (eg doctors and mayors) are far better than some men (eg convicts and lunatics) who have the vote.
  • Other countries have given women the vote.

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Arguments against Women Gaining the Vote


  • A woman's place is in the home; going out into the rough world of politics will change her caring nature.
  • Many women do not want the vote, and would not use it if they got it.
  • Women do not fight in wars.
  • The vast mass of women are too ignorant of politics to be able to use their vote properly.
  • If women are given the vote, it will not be the gentle intelligent women who will stand for Parliament, but the violent Suffragettes. Parliament will be ruined.
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Why did women get the vote?


  • Caused a lot of violence and by 1914 they still hadn't gained the vote even after a lot of Suffragetter violence. 
  • However, some say that after the war, the Government could not return to the violence of the Suffragettes and so the women were given the vote.
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Why did women get the vote?

The War

  • Women served the nation in the war and in 1918 almost every person believed that women deserved to be able to vote as they had proved that they could go to 'war' with men
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Why did women get the vote?

Sylvia Pankhurst

  • In June 1914, she famously took a delegation of working class women to lobby Prime Minister Asquith who did not think that working class women were intelligent enough to have the vote. This proved to Asquith that working class women were intelligent enough to vote.
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Why did women get the vote?

The Suffragists

  • Some argue that the long term persuasion of the Suffragists won the vote.
  • Both the Suffragists and Suffragettes put pressure on Government to give women the vote. The publicity 'de-sensitised' puble to the idea => made it inevitable e.g. going to happen sooner or later.
  • BUT these groups were not a factor by themselves e.g. they had been campaigning since 1906 yet women didnt get the vote until 1918 - Suffragettes had stopeed campaigning in 1914 to support the war effort - therefore change in law= not direct result of campaigning
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The Women's Social and Political Union - the Suffragettes - was formed in 1903 and led by Emmeline Pankhurst. This group was middle class it:

  • heckled politicians 
  • held marches 
  • members chained themselves to railings 
  • attacked policemen 
  • broke windows 
  • slashed paintings 
  • set fire to buildings 
  • threw bombs 
  • went on hunger strike when they were sent to prison.  
  • One suffragette, Emily Davison, ran out in front of the king's horse during the Derby of 1913 and was killed.
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The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies - the Suffragists - was formed in 1897 and led by Millicent Fawcett. The group was made up of mainly middle-class women

  • campaigned peacefully. 
  • organised huge marches- which showed the extent of support for female suffrage.
  • gained the support of some MP's.

The organisation built up supporters in Parliament, but private members' bills to give women the vote all failed.

Women were not given the vote before the war. At the end of the war, in 1918, however, the Representation of the People Act gave women over 30 the vote, and in 1928 this was extended to all women over the age of 21.

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Why were some women given the vote in 1918?

  • Voting system needed reform anyway, e.g. soldiers fighting for more than a year had their vote taken away => unfair => led to 1917 Electoral reform => women given the vote through this bill - wasn't exclusively for them.
  • 1916 Lloyd George replaced Asquith who was more sympathetic to voted for women.
  • Reform =not too controversial ie NOT all women given the vote however most men were => still favoured men which was more acceptable.
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