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Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918. Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Explain your answer using the sources and your own knowledge.

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'Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918.' Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? Explain your answer using the sources and your own knowledge. There are many sources which agree or disagree with the interpretation that 'Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918.' The sources provided will be analysed, evaluated and conclusions will be drawn using the sources and own knowledge to reach a judgment on this interpretation. Many sources such as source C agree with the interpretation. Source C shows the cover of the War Worker magazine in 1917. The cover shows a patriotic scene of a woman in a munitions workers uniform that is helping the war effort and a male soldier both at the same height, both facing and holding the Union Jack. This shows women having equal status to their male counterparts. The purpose of this source may be as propaganda influenced by the government to encourage women to work to help the war effort in munitions factories and as nurses in the field for example: this shows that the government attitude had changed and so supported women working outside the domestic sphere in general and shows that women could be trusted to do traditional men's jobs. ...read more.


However, the source is biased as it is written by suffragettes as probably propaganda to raise the issue and make others support the women's suffrage movement. Source F also contradicts the interpretation, as it says women would have gained the vote before 1918 without the war which disturbed the normal political process and stopped the campaign of the suffragettes. The source indicates that if war work gained the vote for women then why did they deny the many war workers under the age of 30 including munitions workers and service personnel who made the largest contribution. The source also says that more importantly then the war there were more pro-suffrage Ministers in the cabinet and the anti-feminist Prime minister Asquith was replaced by Lloyd George who was sympathetic to the women' suffrage movement so was more support in the cabinet. Furthermore, the government at the time was a coalition and the argument that a single political party would not benefit from the women's vote was now unsustainable. Finally the Source also suggests that pressures on the government not to look backward on this issue compared to former colonies such as Australia. However, the source may be biased as it is written by two women who may be sympathetic to the suffrage movement and also focusing on the issue as shown by book or magazine title 'Feminism and Democracy' and so could be inclined to over emphasise the role of the women's movement on gaining the vote. ...read more.


In conclusion, in my opinion there are many reasons why women gained the vote in 1918. Without the war women would probably not gained the vote in 1918 or without the women's suffrage campaigns. The long term factor was the suffrage campaigns by the suffragists and especially the suffragettes who gained publicity for the issue. Then the First World War began in 1914 and the suffragette campaigns stopped and the suffragettes helped with the war effort and other women also were seen as responsible and are able to do tradition men's work. The war work changed the mind of many politicians, trade union leaders, the press and the public about women and undermined the idea of woman as 'air heads'. In 1916 a new opportunity arouse as Lloyd George replaced Asquith as the Liberal Prime minister. He was sympathetic to the movement and also feared the continuation of the violence. At this time there was a coalition government and the conservatives felt it would not harm them if the over 30 women gained the vote. These three reasons and others such as the pressure of looking backward on this issue allowed politicians to back down on there stance. Thus when by circumstance new laws were needed for male suffrage in the 1918 Representation of the People Act, women's suffrage was included. However only the over 30's could vote according to the bill. So by 1918 the bill had been past by parliament and some women had gained the vote. ...read more.

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