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

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Introduction

Rachel Henderson 10E History Coursework Q.1 Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914. By 1900 women had made the first steps to having equality with men. New opportunities were being made in the world of work for middle-class and working-class girls. Between 1875 and 1907 around half a million new jobs were created in department stores. The rapid expansion of the postal service also created more counter jobs in a network of local post offices. In both of these situations, hours were long, sometimes 80 - 90 hours per week, and pay was poor. But shop work offered some free time and independence for younger girls. It was far preferable to domestic service. One occupation which was almost exclusively a woman's job by 1900 was nursing. By this time there were 60,000 trained nurses. But, as in other areas, they had to resign once they were married. For better educated women, the horizons broadened even further. As technology improved and businesses grew, the opportunities for women who were literate and could operate the new technology, such as typewriters and telephones, also grew. As the Post Office expanded to take in the telephone service and the distribution of old-age pensions, the need for clerks grew. Private companies often took on women with shorthand and typing skills to cope with the increasing amount of paperwork created by modern business methods. However, men still held the skilled and responsible posts. Women were given the lower status jobs which were brought by the new technology. ...read more.

Middle

The Married Woman's Act meant that when a husband deserted his wife he had to pay maintenance. In 1891 a court passed a judgement that a man could not force his wife to live with him. The advances that had been made before 1900 were significant, but women were still inferior in marriage, barred from most professions and they could not even vote. The right to vote was seen as a key to many other changes, but as was shown in the 19th century every change, and advance to equality involved a great struggle. What were their chances with an all-male Parliament, elected by an all-male electorate? Women were going to have to fight to get the vote, seen as the most basic injustice of all. By this time women had already been campaigning for Suffrage since the 1850s. In 1897, organisations such as the Female Political Union and the Manchester Women's Suffrage Societies joined together to form the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). These campaigners pointed out that the Franchise, the right to vote, had been extended for men in 1832, 1867 and 1884. The men franchised by the 1884 Act were generally less well off and much less educated than the suffragists. The NUWSS consisted of mainly middle-class women who were mostly well educated people. These campaigners didn't want the vote for all women, they just thought that women should be able to qualify for the vote by means of their wealth or property, as men do. This organisation pointed out that women made up 52.7% of the population over 21, therefore they, the majority, should be able to elect the parliament which was to run the country. ...read more.

Conclusion

This caused Pethick Lawrence to withdraw his financial support of the Suffragette movement. This showed that the Suffragettes were taking violence to a new level. This sort of behaviour lost the Suffragettes their public support and even the MPs who had previously supported their cause were beginning to question whether their actions were fitting to their fight. The Suffragettes' campaign had certainly raised the profile of their campaign, but they had given their opponents a reason to reject women's suffrage. In many ways the Suffragette Campaign undid much of the good work the Suffragists had been doing since the 1850s. So, during this period the Suffragists could not convince a majority of Parliament to support their motion, hindered by the Suffragettes' targeting of political meetings and of the MPs themselves. The Suffragists' campaign was left as a minor concern due to the violence and increasing militancy of the Suffragettes, which was more of a hindrance than a help. The government refused to give in to the violence of the Suffragettes because it would lead people to believe that they could get what they want through militant methods. MPs became less keen to admit that they agreed with the campaign due to the increasing opposition to the campaigns. Also the women in the public were torn whether they should support the Suffragettes with their extremist campaigns or the more conservative Suffragists. Many working girls would support the Suffragettes purely because they were fighting for the vote for ordinary women, whereas the Suffragists were only campaigning for the vote for married women, women who owned land or were able to qualify in the same way men did. Both organisations suspended their campaigns when war was announced in 1914. ...read more.

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