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Attitudes Towards 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

Essay Question 2. Attitudes Towards Women And Their Right To Vote Had Changed By 1918. How Important Was The First World War In Bringing About This Change? The change in attitude towards women first changed in 1917 when the representation of the people act was put to the House of Commons to gain the vote. It passed with a massive majority of seven to one. It had a rougher time in the lords, but passed all the same with 63 votes. The act became law in 1918. The law said that all men over 21 gained the vote and all women over 30 could vote. Also if a woman of 21 was a householder or married to a householder they also gained the right to vote. This showed that the work women had done during the war had been very decisive in the decisions and showed women had proved themselves worthy. Women's work during the war had been very progressive. As many men had to leave their jobs to fight in the war. Women took over to keep everything running. A lot of women went to work in munitions factories, and as office clerks. There was also a need for labour in factories, however there was a reluctance to take women on in this kind of trade, but by 1916 the need for labour was to dire to pass up on female workers so women were allowed to work. ...read more.

Middle

This was a breakthrough although many attitudes had not changed. Women were also replacing men as office clerks and needed little if any training as females had been working in post offices previously. In this progression of job revolution the first women's army unit was founded in 1918 the WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps). Although the unit was never involved in front line fighting they did a lot of the work in the most needy areas. The job revolution meant that the shortage of men was not really too much of a problem. There was an attitude in change from many MP's. Herbert Asquith, the predecessor of Lloyd George, remained neutral but in a later speech he said "women have worked out their own salvation during the war. How could we have carried on the war without them? Wherever we turn we see them doing work which three years ago we would have regarded as men's work. I would find it impossible to withhold from women the power and right of making their voices directly heard." This shows that Asquith's opinion of women's rights changed immensely over the process of the war. And he has also had a large change in attitude toward the vote. But Asquith wasn't the only person to change their opinion on the vote. ...read more.

Conclusion

female's activities during the war showed them to be capable to handle jobs seen as a man's profession with ease and little training. Women did this whilst keeping on top of things at home and taking care of children. Pre-war work from the suffrage movement caused votes for women to be a very publicised issue, and now, that women had totally proven that they were capable and worthy of the vote. MP's could not ignore the work women had done during the war and felt that females should have a say in how the country was run as they had helped keep things running while the majority of males were off fighting. It was probable that women would have gained the vote anyway but it probably would have taken longer, because the WSPU would have had to stay on the slow but sure path whereas with the efforts during the war the target was gained with due speed. The reasons for there being a possibility that the vote would be gained anyway is because of the long term causes like the suffragette and suffragists movements and their constant working for the vote. Also the attitude change when various bills/acts were passed saying that women could go to school with boys or that women had the right to their own property. All of these factors contributed greatly to the gaining of the vote given in the representation of the people act in 1918. ...read more.

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