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What was the Status of women in 1850?

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Introduction

In this Essay I will write about the five points I have been studying. I will comment on what I think was increasing women's movement in the late 19th century. My big points will be Education, Political participation, Social reform (Laws) and Economics (Work). I think this question wants us to think about why did the women want freedom in the late 19th century? Why not start these movements centuries back? I will answer all these questions in my essay. I will start by writing about the status of women in 1850. What was the Status of women in 1850? Women had no legal status. A married woman's earnings belonged to her husband. All property and goods belonged to the husband, as were the children. Poor people might only earn a few sticks of furniture but this affected women as well because income support was paid to the man, which meant he'd go down the pub and waste it. Women could not vote in general elections or local elections and could not stand as MP's. Men made all political decisions on behalf of the women and before the 1832 reform act only rich landowners could vote. ...read more.

Middle

1848-Queens College, London was opened by F.D. Maurice to train governesses. 1849- Bedford College was opened. 1876- Newnham College was opened. 1878- London University admitted female students and awarded them full degree status. These changes were not 'revolutionary' but they did not change Victorian attitudes towards the education of women. Most people still thought that women did not have the intellectual capacity to cope with a high level of study. Work & Economics Domestic Service continued to be the most common occupation (about 1 million) women, 1 in 3 women being domestic servants at some time in their lives. The Textile Industry was the second biggest employer of women (Around 520,000 in textiles, 380,000 in the clothing industry) although this was largely in northern England and Scotland. Elsewhere women were employed in many unskilled and low paid jobs. There were a number of new developments in employment. For example the growth of banking and commerce resulted in women taking up secretarial and administrative roles. The invention of the typewriter in the 1860's and the telephone resulted in the 'white blouse' worker. ...read more.

Conclusion

This gave an opportunity for delegates to define party policy and look at the issues of education, housing and health. The Independent Labour founded in 1893 attracted large numbers of women activists. The Political Parties gave the feminists invaluable guidance in the field of politics. In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft wrote 'A vindication of the rights of women' with Strictures on political and moral subjects. She claimed women were being treated as objects not as human beings. In 1839 the Custody of Infants Act stated if the parents separated then children under 7 could live with their mothers. In 1870 and 1882 the Married Women's Act had the combined effect of making it legal for women to keep their own property when married. In a test case in 1891 a wife was able to move out of the matrimonial home and live independently from her husband. Thus by reading the following I have come to the conclusion that by the end of the 19th century the status of the married woman had improved to some degree. Wives were no longer seen as objects to be possessed by their husbands. On the other hand the attitude that the male was 'head of the household' was still very much in place. ...read more.

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