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Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914

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Introduction

Title: Changing attitudes to women and their right to vote Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914 In 1897 Millicent Fawcett formed the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. Its aims were to promote the enfranchisement of women by using peaceful, moderate, persuasive techniques. It did get the subject of women's suffrage into the public eye but the NUWSS' slow approach meant that the right to vote would have probably come at a much later date than hoped for by many. Instead, a small group of suffragists there were unsatisfied with the slow progress broke away to form a new kind of suffragist known as the suffragettes. They formed the Women's Social and Political Union. They were led by Emmeline Pankhurst with the help of her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. Instead of using the peaceful methods practiced by the suffragists, the suffragettes were violent and unruly. Often they were arrested for committing minor offences such as chaining themselves to Buckingham palace and generally disrupting the peace. However when Parliament refused to agree to their terms they turned to more violent, illegal methods of getting their message across. These included arson, smashing windows and assaulting MPs. Women were refused the right to vote because the Prime Minister at the time was Herbert Asquith who although was a liberal, was utterly against the enfranchise of women. ...read more.

Middle

Women played an enormous role during WWI. When the conscription came into place, large numbers of the nations work force went out to war so it was up to women to fill the roles. Source A is an extract from a speech made by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst in March 1908. It discusses how important it is that women have the right to vote and states that women who join the campaign do not have to give up their duties at home. Its intention was to inform people about the suffragette movement and to show women who were considering joining the campaign that they would not need to neglect their traditional duties. It is useful because it is a primary source and shows exactly what the suffragettes (particularly Emmeline Pankhurst) thought. Its limitations are that it is one sided, biased and only shows the points of view of the Suffragettes and not the general public. This source disagrees with the statement because it shows that people were campaigning for a change in the voting system before the war. Source B is a postcard issued by the Suffragettes in 1910. It shows all the things that women can be without being able to vote (e.g. doctors, teachers, and mayors) and all the things that men can be and be able to vote (convicts, drunkards, owners of white slaves etc). ...read more.

Conclusion

This source disagrees with the statement because it suggests that the male attitude towards women was negative even when they were proving themselves by working and contributing to the upkeep of the country. In my opinion, WWI had a large impact on the campaign for the enfranchisement of women and helped a great deal with their cause because it showed men (and women) who opposed votes for women that women were sensible, responsible and just as capable of making decisions as men. However the women who were eventually enfranchised were middle aged upper class women and not the young working class women who had actually contributed most to the war effort. Thus disclaiming the statement that women got the right to vote because of their work during WWI. One could argue that women had been voting in local elections for some time so it was natural that national elections would be next. One could also argue that the whole voting system was changing (e.g. they were allowing overseas British citizens to vote) so it was obvious that the next natural step would be for women to get the right to vote. If it wasn't for people like Millicent Fawcett and Emmeline Pankhurst who initiated the whole campaign and people like Emily Davies who died for the cause, the war would have made no difference at all and women would have possibly never have gotten the right to vote. ...read more.

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