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Extended essay - women

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Extended Essay How important were the British Women's Suffrage Campaigns in the decision to grant women the vote in 1918? During the 19th century, Britain was going through a period of great social, political and industrial change. Throughout this time, mainly middle class women had made significant advances into the male sphere, especially in work and politics, and women's suffrage was constantly kept on the political agenda. Women had become much more involved in a range of serious activities across society, had gained new legal rights over issues such as divorce, and had made advances in education, with some women now being allowed to go to university. This made it harder for politicians to justify not giving them the vote. With ? of adult males having the vote by 1884, it seemed unfair that women, like mentally unstable people and criminals, were denied the basic right to vote. Therefore, as no one in any political party was campaigning for 'votes for women' the Suffrage society formed. Both the Suffragist, and later the Suffragette, campaigns were extremely important in convincing politicians to grant women the vote, as they brought 'the cause' to a national audience and highlighted the political inequalities between men and women at that time. ...read more.


Led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Sylvia and Christabel, they took on a militant approach in attempting to gain women the vote. Nicknamed the Suffragettes, they were rather extreme, with some of their tactics including pouring acid on golf courses where the MPs played, cutting telephone wires and even chaining themselves to railings during loud and often violent protests. It is arguable that their militancy set the cause back, as seen by the rejection of the idea of votes for women in the results of the 2nd Conciliation Bill, and Asquith's refusal to consider concessions until all militancy stopped. Many men were also opposed to women having the vote, and in 1909, a petition by the Men's League Opposing Women's Suffrage was signed by thousands of males. These factors all seemed to prove that the militant approach did not work, and when Sylvia was kicked out of the WSPU in 1913, it was regarded that the Suffragette movement was too radical and aggressive by many. Their tactics angered politicians, who claimed that they showed that women were untrustworthy and unworthy of the vote. When Asquith agreed to meet in 1914, he only met with the East London branch of Suffragettes, not all Suffrage organisations. ...read more.


When all women who owned property and were over the age of 30 were granted the vote in 1918, it was said that not all women received the vote due to practical considerations, like the fact that it would be impractical to grant the vote to women who did not have a very high income, or to women under 30 who were considered not mature enough. The changing social attitudes before 1914 can be considered as the biggest impact in the decision to give women the vote, as without them, possibly no one would have ever wanted 'votes for women'. Overall, the Women's Suffrage campaigns had very significant importance in the decision to grant women the vote in 1918 because they demonstrated that women were not just illiterate housewives who were of no use, and that they were smart and determined people who had a dedicated desire for society to change to include women more. The Great War was important as it proved that women were more skilled that originally thought and gave politicians the chance to recognise this, but postponed the decision to give women the vote. However, without changing social attitudes towards women before the Great War, it can be assumed that Britain's people would never have supported women's suffrage and thus the vote may not have been granted to women by 1918. Nadine Cowan ...read more.

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