Why women achieved the vote


Women's suffrage campaign

  • 1887-Militant Fawcett formed NUWSS (also known as the suffragettes), did not vote for all women-only women property owners same rights as men, spread ideas of women's suffrage by petitions, pamphlets, meetings and also parliamentary bills
  • Unlike suffragettes, peaceful protest group
  • Forming of NUWSS important since many people began to get get on board with idea of women's suffrage
  • Trade unions and Labour party supported them (alarmed Libreral government that ith the greater support the labour party could be a threat against them in the election) 
  • Many joined the NUWSS and had 53,000 members by 1914 
  • High number due to people being against Suffragettes violent campaign but still believed in women's suffrage campaign
  • Important because meant group gained more publicity and support nationally which sparked arguments and pledges for women's suffrage
  • Pugh argued that it was 'probably the most positive contribution of the Pankhursts to winning the vote'
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Changing attitudes and changing position of women

  • Belief women were inferior and unequal to men-uncapeable of voting
  • Men regarded as protectors of family, possesed all wife and daughter's property
  • Social position of women only began to improve 1873-1893 when several laws passed
  • 1873- Infant Custody Act, significant because increased women's rights over children, allowed mother full custody
  • Women's Property Act 1882 and 1883 important bc women had full legal control over own possesions aquired through own earnings or inheritance
  • 1970-Universal primary education available for both genders, free in 1892, 
  • Women started working in 'white collar' office jobs, other traditional jobs eg Nursing and teaching
  • Change in social position and attidues of women important bc people began to see women more capeable and slightly more equal to men, hence, women should be given same voting rights.
  • Women became increasingly active in public affairs, led them to their involvement in local politics and as the historian Martin Pugh said "their participation in local government made Women's exclusion from national elections increasingly untenable 
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Importance of the first world war

  • To encourage suffragettes to end campaign following war, Gov released WSPU prisoners on outbreak of war, WSPU campaign stopped, gov funded WSPU propaganda campaign-men should fight, women should work
  • Women worked as conductors, secerataries, on farms, 700,000 in manitions industry
  • War didnt change male perceptions-'women's place is in the home' advertising as strong in 1918 as in 1914
  • Vote in 1918 given to property owner women over 30-not those who worked in factories during war!
  • Balanced view of women after suffragette campaigns-H.H Asquith changed view of female suffrage
  • During war many women became aware of own influence and ability to make changes to improve living and working conditions (Red Clydeside Rent strikes)
  • Gov could not be sure that women were not going to join a revitilised suffragette campaign after war and return to terrorism
  • WW1 saw David Lloyd George become Prime minister, supported cause
  • Politicians became worried of Russian Revolution
  • Many believed reform inevitable, passing the female suffrage  
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Suffragettes-Militant Suffrage campaign

  • Formed in 1903 by Emmeline, Christabel, Sylvia Pankhurst
  • Dedicated to achieving woman's suffrage but had the motto 'deeds not words' contrasting to the suffragists peaceful campaign 
  • Carried out mostly destructive behaviour
  • 1908-smashed gov windows in protest
  • 1913-Suffragettes tried to burn down houses of 2 MPs, Farington Hall, Dundee and Leuchars Railway Station attacked
  • Violence and disruption gained a lot of publicity and people began to get angry at the government for not stopping them (especially insurance companies as they were paying out for damage)
  • Important because it caused a great pressure on the gov to deal with situation (ideally by giving women's suffrage)
  • Suffragettes fored the liberal gov to discuss issue in parliament but often they were branded as unfit for the vote because of their antics
  • Support dropped after 1910 due to becoming more militant 
  • For many working class women, earning living more important
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Examples of Other Countries

  • During the 19th century, Britain saw itself as the ‘cradle of democracy’ and one of the most politically advanced societies in the world; Britain’s empire included around 1/3 of the world – colonies such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada
  • However, more democratic nations around the world had declared women’s suffrage much earlier on. For example, New Zealand granted women’s suffrage in 1893, Finland in 1872 and Norway in 1907. 
  • In addition, the Russian revolution in 1917 saw the autocratic Tsar who denied people democracy ousted in a bloody revolution and killed by the poorer Bolsheviks in Russia, which sent shockwaves and fear of revolution around the world
  • The fear of revolution was a real one in Britain and middle class Brits were terrified of Communism, it may be the case that the Rent Strikes in Glasgow in 1915 had added to government’s fears that the working class and women would not wait patiently for the vote forever
  • However, there exists no evidence to say that foreign influence played any part in the government’s decision to extend the franchise in 1918 and no evidence to say it was even discussed by MPs in parliament
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  • Throughout the 19th century more and more men were given the right to vote yet there was no sign in the right to vote in national election being given to women
  • Suffragettes
  • Suffrigists
  • changing attitudes and positions of women
  • importance of the first world war
  • examples of other countries (france, New Zealand)
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