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How important was World War One in gaining women the vote?

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Introduction

Siobhan Hughes How important was World War One in gaining women the vote? February 1918 saw the passing of the 'Representation of the people act'. This act extended the groups of people allowed to vote. Women over the age of 30 were now allowed to vote. After countless years of fighting for the right to vote, women were now able to vote. There has been much dispute over the years as to why women were eventually granted the right to vote. Some people argue that it was because of the way the women helped during the First World War. Others argue that it was because of the campaigning, militant tactics through the work and achievements of the NUWSS and the WSPU in previous years. But exactly HOW important was the war in gaining women the vote? Millions of British men enlisted to fight for their country at the time of war. They left their families, homes and jobs, and they understood that they might not survive the war. They did it for their country. However, with the absence of the men, there was nobody to work in the factories making weapons and other such items that would be compulsory for fighting the war. ...read more.

Middle

The government decided that it was unfair that a large amount of the men who had fought for their country for so long were not able to vote. These men had fought in the trenches, seen family and friends die, and yet they were not allowed to vote. So, as they were giving these men the vote, they thought about how the women too had played a great role in the war. They may not have been on the front line, but they had pulled together, they had 'kept the country running' while the men had been away. Some people believe that without the First World War, the 'Representation of the people act' would not have come into play and votes for women may have been delayed or they may not have been granted the vote at all. Although a huge barrier had been broken, there was still a long way to go. Under the new act, women could vote, but only women over the age of 30. To the younger women, this seemed like a great injustice. They had worked just as hard as the older women, and yet, under the new law they were still unable to vote. ...read more.

Conclusion

They were seen by some people as 'taking it too far'. They were seen as an 'enemy' by the government. They were using violence as an ally. The WSPU had strong links with the Labour Party and other influential MPs. This helped their credibility as so many key figures were seen as supporting the organisation. They achieved a significant amount before the war. This evidence shows that even before war these women had worked intensely to see that they were given the vote. It also shows that they believed in the cause so much that they had fought for it for many years before there was any sign of war. So there is no way it can be said that the war was solely responsible in gaining women the vote. So, in conclusion I think that the war did play a major role in gaining women the vote. However, to say that war alone was the only factor that existed in gaining women the vote is slightly apprehensive. For a start, not all women gained the right to vote. Also without the work of the NUWSS, WSPU and other such organisations the idea of women voting would not even have come to light. In addition the lengths that these women went to and the sheer determination and dedication that was shown is evidence enough that their work certainly paid off. ...read more.

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