Why Did Women Get the Vote

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The Suffragists and Suffragettes


  • Used peaceful means of protest. Eg. leaflets, education, word of mouth.
  • Didn't gain as much attention as the Suffragettes, but were quietly changing the minds of the people behind the scenes. 
  • Ultimately, it was this subtle change of mind over the years that led to women getting the vote.


  • Used acts of violence and vandalism to draw attention to their cause.
  • Staged violent protests and were frequently arrested.
  • It can be argued that they damaged the push for women's votes as they caused men to dislike them even more.

"They irritated the public without frightening the government" - Pugh.

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The First World War

Women and War

  • War on the home front showed that women could do most jobs just as well as men.
  • The women worked in the factories, hospitals, schools, police force etc.
  • Many voluntary organisations were set up by women to give support to the war effort such as the Womens Land Army and the Voluntary Aid Detachment.
  • However, most women who worked the jobs were under 30, and only over 30s received the vote. This shows that the war didn't help them win the vote.

"How could we have won the war without women?" - Asquith.

"The highly skilled and dangerous work done by women during the war was probably he greatest factor in the granting of the vote to women." - Lewis

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Democratic Reform

  • From the 1860s, women's suffrage was a hot parliamentary debate.
  • Women like Dr. Marie Stopes (science) and Lottie Dod (tennis) were shining examples of 'new women'.
  • Women had changed, the world had changed, and so the law had to change.
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Social Change and Education

  • Women became increasingly engaged in more technical, specialist work.
  • Women's colleges and universities opened. Women first graduated from Edinburgh in 1893.
  • Even bicycles played a part. They enabled women to travel around easily, to and from jobs, or to visit friends.
  • These changes helped women be seen as more useful and educated.
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The Influence of Print Media

  • Incredibly, the government taxed newspapers, so only the rich could afford them.
  • When the tax was abolished in the 1850s, newspapers became cheaper, so that women could not only read them, but they could also write in them.
  • A new newspaper, the 'Daily Mirror', was opened in 1903 with all female staff. It was especially for women.
  • Newspapers were a cheap and easy way for women to spread ideas.
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Political Pragmatism

  • The franchise had been extended to men in 1832, 1867, 1884.
  • Men had to be property owners in order to vote - but many 16 year olds had fought for their country - as had many men who didnt meet the property qualification.
  • In the end, a committee that met in 1917 decided that women over 30 should be given the vote too.
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Events Abroad

Many other countries had given women the vote whereas Britain, which was meant to be the world pillar of democracy, hadn't.

  • 1893 - New Zealand
  • 1902 - Australia
  • 1906 - Finland
  • 1918 - Germany

"It was becoming increasingly untenable to continue denying the vote to women and their enfranchisement was inevitable, especially with pressure from changes in foreign countries" - Pugh.

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