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“Was the work women did in the War the most important reason why they were given the vote in 1918?”

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Introduction

"Was the Work Women did in the War the Most Important Reason Why they were given the Vote in 1918?" There were many reasons why women got the vote in 1918. The work of the suffragists and suffragettes was very important. The NUWSS was founded by Millicent Fawcett and it relied upon patience, peaceful protests and logical arguments to win the vote. She argued that if Parliament made laws and if women had to obey those laws, then women should be part of the process of making those laws. Although the suffragists did manage to convert certain members of the Labour Representation Committee (soon to be the Labour Party), most men in Parliament still believed that women wouldn't understand how Parliament worked and therefore shouldn't take part in the electoral process. The Suffragists' progress was very slow, and many women were tired of waiting. These women became known as the Suffragettes. Emmeline Pankhurst, a famous founder of the Suffragettes, wrote this in her autobiography: "This was the beginning of a campaign the like of which was never kwon in England, or for that matter in any other country...we interrupted a great many meetings...and we were violently thrown out and insulted. Often we were painfully bruised and hurt." The Suffragettes used many methods to win their support. They had special badges and a colour scheme to indicate their loyalties. ...read more.

Middle

they have done more during the last twelve months to bring it within the region of practical politics than we have been able to accomplish in the same number of years." The work done by women during the war was also an important factor. When World War I broke out in 1914, women's role in society undertook a dramatic change. As more and more men joined the army (especially in 1916 when conscription was introduced), women participated in the war effort on the Home Front. Some had jobs concerning transport, for example on buses, trams and trains. This would mean either being the driver or the conductor. Others became police constables or worked in shipyards or mines. The Women's Land Army was established, as there were no men left to work on the land. Women earned the same wages as men previously had and their job consisted of such tasks as weeding and haymaking. Britain became increasingly self sufficient, as the Germans kept sinking merchant ships with food on board. The WLA became even more effective after the Battle of the Somme in 1916 when many men who normally worked on the land died. Women also became nurses during this time. The VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) gave comfort to injured soldiers; their main task was to keep wounds clean. ...read more.

Conclusion

How would Parliament look by locking them up after the atrocities in World War I? Other Historians do not entirely agree with this, for many women who worked in dangerous munitions factories, for instance, were not given the vote because they were below the age of 30. There was still no total equality between men and women because only women over the age of 30 were allowed to vote, whereas men over 21 could vote. This meant that out of an electorate of 21 million, 8 million were women. In conclusion, I think the most important reason for women getting the vote in 1918 was because of the work they achieved in the war. The previous argument that women couldn't serve their country was now shattered. Parliament realised that without women's support on the Home Front, victory might not have been possible. The Government felt that they owed a lot to women after supporting the war effort. The Daily Express printed this on 19 July, 1915: "It was impossible for the spectators not to feel touched and stirred and proud of these women of England as they trooped through the rain with one fixed aim- the serving of their country in the hour of its need...Here and there groups of soldiers cheered the women, as well they might. The heart of every man went out to them, they were the true women of England, the women of whom to be proud." ...read more.

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