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Attitudes toward women and their right to vote had changed by 1918. How important was the First World War in bringing about this change?

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Introduction

Attitudes toward women and their right to vote had changed by 1918. How important was the First World War in bringing about this change? There were many reasons why women got the vote in 1918. The work of suffragists and suffragettes were very important. However, some historians claim that without the activities of the suffragists and the suffragettes, the idea of giving women the vote may not have been considered in 1918. One of the most important reasons that women got the vote in 1918 is because of the suffragettes' efforts. In 1915, Britain was short of industries workers, and munitions workers because there were so many men leaving to fight in Europe. Britain's role in the war might have ground to a halt since food, armaments, and clothing for men were desperately short. The obvious answer was to recruit women to fill the gaps and the WSPU stopped all in 1914 militant action to support the war effort with the government. The government and the suffragettes worked together wonderfully to encourage women to go out to work. In fact, the number of women who were in employment was only about five million in 1914, however at the end of the war this had gone up to just over six million. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore meetings were still held and petitions were still signed to ensure that pressure was kept on Parliament during the war. Accordingly, the work of the suffragists and suffragettes were very important in the campaign for women. Not only the work done by the suffragettes and the suffragists were reasons why women got votes in 1918, but also the work done by women during the war was an important factor in gaining the vote. The First World War transformed the position of women in society. During the First World War, industries, and especially munitions, were short of workers. Food, clothing and armaments had to be provided for fighting men. Also so many men were away fighting in the war that there weren't enough people to do vital jobs. Therefore, women were encouraged to work and fill the gap that men left, by the government and the suffragettes. Women worked on all sort of things. For instance, women worked as tram drivers, laboratory assistants, munitions workers, police officers and house painters etc. Accordingly, many men were genuinely impressed by women's contribution to the war effort. They had shown that they were mature and sensible, and were capable of doing most jobs. Mostly importantly they showed that they can keep their country going without men's aid. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe that the suffrage movement for women in 1918 was the combined result of what women did before the war and during the war as well as a shake-up of the voting system and Lloyd George's replacement of Asquith as Prime Minister. One of the long term effects for this is the violence by the suffragettes, which occurred before the war. It also caused the post-war apprehension of the people who did not want another conflict. On the other hand, the suffragists employed petitions, persuasions and meetings to raise the issue of voting rights for women and made people getting used to the idea, eventually leading them to accept it. For the first short-term consequence, the work of women during the war enabled them to get the vote by showing that they could do work like men. They worked in the munitions factories which were directly related to the war effort. This disproved the arguments that 'women do not fight to defend their country', proved that they were sensible and clever enough to get the vote and shattered the misconception of women being ruled by their menstrual cycle. Secondly, it was an opportune time to include women's suffrage when the voting system was changing anyway. Also Lloyd George, who is willing to help women to vote, became a prime minister in 1916. Hye Rin Ra 20th.Feb.04. ...read more.

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