• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How important was the First World War in achieving votes for women in 1918?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

How important was the First World War in achieving votes for women in 1918? The First World War had a profound effect on suffrage politics. Just as Britain was going to war against Germany in August 1914, the WSPU declared peace with the Liberals. In fact, as Pugh has pointed out, "the sex war was swamped by the Great War" . Nevertheless, it has been argued that the greatest effect of the war on women's suffrage was that women were given the vote towards the end of it. In the past, historians have generally agreed that women were awarded the vote as a token of gratitude for their war work. As Lewis points out, "The highly skilled and dangerous work done by women during the war in the armament and munitions factories........was probably the greatest factor in the granting of the vote to women at the end of the war." Despite this assertion, nowadays historians have claimed the direct correlation between women's war work and women's suffrage to be a weak argument. They argue that the emphasis placed on women's economic contribution to the war discounts the groundwork put in by the pre-war suffrage campaign and some even believe that far form the war facilitating votes for women, it actually postponed its implementation. ...read more.

Middle

After all, for over fifty years before the war, an all male parliament was reluctant to enfranchise women but by the end of the war, politicians had changed their minds. Reasons for the shifts occurring in government thinking between 1914 and 1918 are therefore in need of addressing. Firstly, there was a need for franchise reform in general. The existing franchise law required men who qualified as householders to have occupied a dwelling for at least a year prior to an election. Consequently, large numbers of armed forces were ineligible to vote because they no longer held or had never had a twelve month residency. Clearly this was a major problem. Therefore, in 1916, an all party conference, composed of MPs from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords presided over the Speaker of the House of Commons, was appointed to draft a proposal on the franchise and registration. This Speaker's Conference, as it was known, proved beneficial because fortunately for women, there were many supporters of women's suffrage to assure a sympathetic hearing. Nevertheless, although only a limited number of women were granted the vote because it feared that they might swamp the male electorate, over eight million women were enfranchised. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another point to consider is that women may well have been granted the vote if the Suffragists and Suffragettes had not campaigned so effectively before the war. This suggests that the pre-war suffrage movement prepared the ground for votes for women. In many ways, the war may have delayed the franchise rather then expedited it. Holten argues that "only two weeks before the outbreak of war, negotiations between Suffragists and government were taking place." I would have to conclude that my opinion on this question lies in favour of the synthesis view, which combines both sides to the argument. Thus I believe that in some ways the war was important in gaining votes for women, since it was a token of gratitude for war work. However, one should consider that pre war campaigns could easily have triggered the enfranchisement. Therefore, it is hard to justify how important the war was in achieving votes for women. Paula Bartley, Votes for Women:1860-1928 (Hodder & Stoughton, 1998), p88 Lewis Gifford, Eva Booth and Esther Reper (Pandora, 1988), pp.165-6 Martin Pugh, Women's Suffrage in Britain 1867-1928 (The Historical Association, 1986), p.28 Paula Bartley, Votes for Women: 1860-1928 (Hodder & Stoughton, 1998), p.99 Sandra Stanley Holton, Suffrage and Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 1986), p.125 Sreeja Nair History Key Skills Assignment ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. The Prelude to the 1975 War and the Cairo Agreement.

    The second phase was a stand-off, with shelling exchanges continuing until late May when an Iraqi-sponsored truce brought an uneasy calm. The population had faced intolerable disruptions and over 320,000 people had fled the enclave by the time the fighting stopped.

  2. 1, Select and explain the most important turning points in the first world war ...

    And finally the fact they where losing more and more of their men and even men that where alive where extremely tired and wounded. The Americans where an extremely strong and big army aggravated by the Germans attempt to get Mexico to lodge and attack towards the U.S.A, there intervention

  1. Why did Germany lose the First World War in 1918?

    especially as even when they gave 150% effort they still were not winning! This motivational problem was very depressing for the soldiers but given the conditions they had already endured over time I doubt that there was suddenly a huge decrease in morale even when the Americans joined the war.

  2. In What Ways Did The First World War Affect The Lives Of People At ...

    The Pals battalions idea was one of that every one in a community would sign up with each other and form a battalion consisting of relative's friends and families, thus forming a tight nit group in which everyone got along with each other in.

  1. Assessing the impact of the first world war on international relations in the decade ...

    Apart from gaining their own independence, these nations were to help remove border conflicts that would have emerged between German and Russia. This is true when one examines Lenin's reasons for accepting the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, which was for the benefit of Bolsheviks.

  2. American History.

    *Different Theories of Representation* - Grenville's acts illustrate the different theories of representation. While Grenville and the English believed that Parliament represented all British subjects by definition regardless of where they lived [Virtual Representation], colonists believed that they needed members that specifically represented their regions.

  1. Only Yesterday by Frederick Lewis Allen - review

    At the same time, the government pushed the issue of prohibition aside, for the most part. In my opinion, the government acted very na�vely in putting into affect prohibition. I just can't imagine how the government would fully expect the nation to comply with the outlaw of alcohol-especially if the law was almost impossible to enforce.

  2. Interpretations of The First World War.

    You have to see the picture to believe it - it is so bad! This is definitely a primary source because it was obviously taken at the time with it being a photograph. I don't know how the soldiers could cope in these conditions because they are disastrous.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work