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“Why did it take so long for women to achieve the franchise?”

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Introduction

Evonne Buchan "Why did it take so long for women to achieve the franchise?" It was in 1928 that women after a tiring and long drawn struggle eventually gained the vote, and with it they achieved a greater sense of importance within society. The extension of the franchise to women at this time most importantly gave them the equality they desired with that of their male counterparts. It is wrong to state that women did not have the right to vote, some women were able to vote in local council elections, it was in parliamentary elections that women could not cast a vote, therefore had no power in parliamentary elections. The road to achieving the extension was one of trial and tribulation; they had many barriers to overcome and perceptions to shatter. Many factors hindered the path to the extension, at this time all men did not have the franchise; although some men supported women's suffrage most thought it was ludicrous to even consider extending the franchise when they were not entirely enfranchised themselves. The Victorian attitudes that were adhered to women seemed at most times irremovable; these included the perceptions of the role of women in marriage/ education and the economy. The lack of successful women's pressure groups also held back enfranchisement for women, this involved the minimalist effects of the suffragette movement. ...read more.

Middle

It is stated that 1.14 million women were involved in domestic service. Working in homes of the middle and upper class expending a vast amount of physical energy in order to maintain the upper class in an environment in which they were accustom to but the employees themselves were alien to. Low pay was a problem for most women in work generally earning half of that of a man's wage. Underpayment was seemingly the least of woman's worries, they also had to endure the worst of the factory system such as long hours and poor conditions in terms of light, ventilation and protection from dangerous toxic substances. Unfairly after a strenuous days work they were expected to return home, carry out domestic duties and serve their husbands. These misperceptions of women were hard to change, but in time to follow women were to show that they were not as fragile as once thought, the suffragette movement was to portray women in an entirely different manner. As mentioned previously the lack of successful pressure groups slowed enfranchisement. "The feminist movement" is the term given to refer to the efforts of women in the 19th century to improve their rights in law and society. The "Feminist movement" had no real organisation until the early twentieth century, and had no real starting date. The leaders were women from the upper class who had access to material resources and sufficient leisure time to enable them to pursue their various causes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Women took over the jobs that men had occupied before them, women were literally found in every profession, they undertook work in munitions factories showing that they were not as fragile or docile as once thought, they proved that they too could undertake hard physical labour. What the war did was to highlight the economic and strategic value of women to the state. The government could not deny the franchise to the women that had so gallantly carried on the war effort at home, although the government and men alike noticed their efforts it still took another ten years for the Representation of the People Act (1928) to be passed. All women over twenty one gained the vote, provided they had resided in Britain for six months. In conclusion it is clear that all factors discussed above hindered greatly the path to enfranchisement for women, the Victorian attitudes to women from men did not aid them in anyway when trying to further their place in society, it is also clear that the lack of successful female pressure groups did not totally break the barrier to enfranchisement for women. The outbreak of war killed off the momentum of the reform campaign, and delayed enfranchisement even further although it must be mentioned that when the war began many felt that the issue of the vote was miniscule in comparison with the current affairs. Women's suffrage was no dout achieved through piecemeal advancements but when it eventually did come the work and effort of women had paid off, equality was now theirs. ...read more.

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