Womens Suffrage

These cards are about the Female Suffrage movement in the early 1900's.

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Living Conditions for Women


  • Women could bring divorce cases agaist their husbands for cruelty, desertion and bigamy (having more than one wife)
  • Women were allowed to keep their property after their marrige
  • A woman no longer had to stay in her husbands home against her will


  • Wife battering and **** were still legal.
  • It was easier for her husband to get a divorce
  • If a divorce were to occur, the woman would lose all rights over her children.

Their lives had improved

  • All children between the ages of 5-10 had to go to school and by 1900, 97% could read and write
  • They could get jobs and go to university, as well as become teachers and go to teacher training colleges.
  • They had more rights in marrige.
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Why Women shouldn't have the Vote

  • Women had seperate spheres of life from men. The woman sphere includes children, cooking, cleaning and other aspects of home life. The would also have no idea about thier husbands political view or the details of his job. The husbands sphere of work and political views.
  • The opinion lead to those who were against the suffragettes to believe that when a man comes home, tired from his day at work, to a neglected home when his wife is out campaiging for votes.
  • Most women did not want the vote as they had no interest in public affairs
  • Women were already represented by their husbands-wives were expected to share the same political views as her husband
  • Women are not raitonal-they are too emotional to be trusted with the vote.
  • Women are pure and should be protected from the gruby world of politics
  • Women do not fight in wars for the country, so why should they decide when we go to war
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Why Women should have the Vote

  • Votes for women would mean more equality in the work place, in education and other benefits
  • Other countries, such as Australlia and New Zealand, women had been given the vote in national elections
  • In America, some states aloud women to vote
  • Many women were already involved in politics on a 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 1900's, the majority of men could vote. Britain was not a democracy if only 50% of the population could vote
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The Suffragists

  • The NUWSS (National Union of Womens Suffrage Societies) were originally many seperate groups all over the country. In 1897, Millicent Fawcett joined all the groups together under one party.

Was their movement effective?

  • No because they failed to get the vote by 1914.
  • However, the suffragists did manage to get womens suffrage bills proposed to the government several times over 14 years. The closest was the Conciliation Bill in 1910. PM Asquith delayed this bill, as him and many otherMP's didn't want to consider the issue. 
  • By 1914, there were 400 branches with 100,000 ,members. The members were made up of mainly middle class women, and there were even some male members.
  • They were very successful at propaganda. They organised leaflets and posters, rallies, and letters to MP's
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The Suffragettes

The Suffragettes were founded in 1903 as the WSPU (Womens Social Politial Union) by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Sylvia and Christabel. They set it up because they were impatient with the progress of the fight for womens suffrage. Their members were mainly high class and no male members were aloud.

  • The thought direct action, by attracting publicity, and therefore the government, to their cause
  • This began in 1908 when the suffragettes broke the windows on Downing Street  and chained themselves to the railings.
  • They paused in 1910, and began again in 1912.
  • This included arson and vandalism whent the Conciliation Bill failed.
  • The most famous incident was on the 4th June 1913, when Emily Davison through herself in front of the Kings Horse at the Epsom Derby. She died 4 days later after suffering many injuries.
  • Earlier that year, she had also bombed David Lloyd George (Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time)
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The Suffragettes Effectiveness

  • The suffragettes didn't achieve the vote in 1914
  • They divided the women's movement, when in 1909, the suffragists distanced themselves from them.
  • Violent action changed some MP's minds and turned some sections of public opinion against them
  • The action of the suffragettes made the fight for womens suffrage unforgettable
  • Their members were very effective at advertising. By 1914, 40,000 copies of their magazine 'Votes for Women' were circulating
  • Many admired the suffragettes for the willingness to suffer for their cause, such as the hunger strikes and force feeding in prison
  • The police and the Government treated them harshly
  • The siffragettes were treated poorly in prison and went on hunger strikes, this lead them to be force feed. This gained them sypmathy and support from the public.
  • In 1913, the Cat and Mouse act was introduced. It aloud suffragettes who went on hunger strikes to be released to become healthy again, and then be recaptured, therefore preventing the need to be force feed. Of course, this meant that women were free to commit whatever crimes for their cause before going back to prison.
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What did Women do in the War?

Women on the Front Line

  • Hospital units were set up, with mainly female nurses.
  • Thousands of women volunterred to set up soup kitchens and other services
  • The Womens Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) was formed in 1918. They were mainly female drivers, secretaries and officials on the Western Front.

Women and Recruitment

  • Female members of the Active Service League encouraged young men to enlist
  • The Mothers' Union published posters crtising mothers who wouldn't let their sons join up

Women and  War Work

  • Government departments hired 200,000 women
  • Trade unions disagreed with the hiring off women-by the end of the war, 800,000 women worked in engineering
  • Around 260,000 women worked on the land in the Womens' Land Army
  • Some football teams were kept going by women during the war
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What did Women do in the War-Munition Factories

Thousands working in private and government funded munitions factories. On one hand, they gave the women money and status. But it was also dangerous work due to the possiblity of explosions, as well as the poor health affects the dangerous chemicals had.

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Why Were Women given the Vote in 1918?

  • In 1918, the Representation of the People Act was introduced. As well as included votes for women who were 30 or over and either owned a home or lived with someone who did, it was extended to men over the age of 21, as some had lived outside of Britain for 4 years, and were therefore not eligable to vote.
  • Due to this, 9 million women got the vote.

Why was the war an important factor in women getting the vote?

  • The amount of work put in in the war effort showed that the women deserved the right to vote
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