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Explain why women failed to gain the vote before 1914?

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This essay will be looking into the reasons why British women didn't have the right to vote before 1914. In the nineteenth century women were treated as second class citizens. They were given low paid jobs and most women were not even considered to have jobs. Most men and even some women believed that a woman's duty was at home with the kids. However some women broke through the barrier to get where they wanted this woman being Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first women doctor. It took women along time to get their campaigns to get the vote together. When the women finally got their campaigns together by the late nineteenth and early twentieth century there were two main campaigning groups. There was the NUWSS who campaigned peacefully and later became called suffragists and the WSPU who campaigned violently who later were called the suffragettes. Towards the end of the nineteenth century new opportunities began to open up for working women. Women increasingly went into shop work and after the invention of the type writer became secretaries, but the women still only got paid very low wages. Some women could begin to train for the medical and teaching professions or could join the civil service. However the employers insisted as soon as they were married they give up the jobs. Women faced great inequality in society but in 1877 the legal status of women slowly started to change. ...read more.


With the queen saying this she could have made may men believe women shouldn't have the vote who believed they should to start with. So the queen was one of the reasons why women didn't get the vote sooner because she more or less persuaded every body they shouldn't. Anti-Suffrage groups were set up were set up in protest of the violence the women were causing. This didn't help the women's cause one bit and was another factor why they didn't get the vote sooner than 1914. The main Anti-Suffrage group was the Anti-suffrage League, whom collected signatures against women having the vote and at a meeting on the 26th march, 1909; Humphrey Ward announced that over 250,000 people had signed the petition. The following June he reported that movement had 15,000paying members and 110 branches and the number who had signed the petition had increased to 320,000. The leaders of the Anti-suffrage league claimed that the vast majority of women in Britain were not interested in having the vote and that there was a danger that a small group of organised women would force the government to change the electoral system. The suffragettes refused to stop the violence. They burned down churches because the church of England was against what they wanted; they vandalised oxford street, apparently breaking all the windows in the famous street; they chained themselves to Buckingham palace as the royal family was against women having the vote; they hired boats, sailed up the river Thames and shouted abuse through loud hailers at parliament; others refused to pay their tax. ...read more.


The First World War brought a end to the struggle fro women's suffrage for most of the campaigners. Their efforts were channelled into helping Britain win the war. At the end of the war in 1918 women over 30 who owned property were given the vote. Women were also eligible to become MPs. The vote was seemed to many as a reward to women for all they did in the war. It was also notified that many of the fighting men were now not eligible to vote because they had been out of the country for over a year. In 1928 all women over 21 were given the vote. To conclude this essay I thought that there were many reasons why women didn't get the vote before 1914 for example most men were against women getting the vote from the start though not all of them were. Some women were against women getting the vote and some set up Anti-Suffrage societies. MPs were against it and thought it was an unimportant issue. The prime minister was against it because he thought women would vote conservative. Bad publicity did not help the suffrage campaigns like Emily Davison etc and the fact the royal family was against women getting the vote. But the most important reason I think is that the women were divided amongst themselves and not united, I think if the suffragettes and suffragists stuck together they would have got the vote sooner. ...read more.

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