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The Changing Role and Status of Women in Britain Since 1900.

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Introduction

The Changing Role and Status of Women in Britain Since 1900 Questions: 1) Explain why women failed to get the vote between 1900 and 1914. 2) Attitudes towards women and their right to vote had changed by 1918. How important was the First World War in bringing about this change? 1)Despite many attempts by the suffrage campaigns, between 1900 and 1914, women were still not able to get the vote. They used all sorts of methods to try and get the vote, many of which were illegal. There are a number of reasons why they did not get the vote, many of which were long term factors. Long term factors were social attitudes towards women from mid 19th century to early 20th century, and how these attitudes had to be changed in order for the women to get the vote. They had to prove themselves to the men and the government and show that they were just as good at many of the careers that men did. This would prove to be very difficult. Another long term factor was the Franchise Reform in 1900, which gave the chance for the government to choose who was to get the vote. At that moment, it was only rich people and landowners that were allowed the right to vote. Women were determined to turn around the Franchise Reform and get the right to vote themselves. It was always going to be hard for the women to get the vote especially with the understanding of many people that women were the inferior race and that both genders had different roles in the world. This theory led to the Separate Spheres Philosophy where men and women worked in different areas. Men were meant to take part in hard labour, politics and military, while women were meant to be the more domestic of the two and were supposed to stay at home and sew, cook and look after any children that they had. ...read more.

Middle

In 1906 the Liberals had the power to grant the women the vote, but did not. There were three main reasons why they did not grant the women the vote. The first is that simply the Prime Minister, Asquith was very hostile about the situation. The second is that the Liberals majority in Parliament was gradually whittled down by a series of elections. By 1910, it relied on the votes from the Irish Nationalists and the Labour Party to survive. They were also unwilling to risk their term of government for votes for women (Irish Nationalists do not support women's suffrage.) The third and final reason is that Liberals had other more pressing problems such as the insurrection in Ireland, the rebellion by the House of Lords, and the widespread strike action by trade unions. This was a revolutionary period when votes for women was not a priority for the Liberal government. All this meant that the Liberal's had to do something about the Suffragettes in particular. After 1908 the treatment for Suffragettes became much harsher and instead of the women getting 1st division treatment, they got 2nd division treatment. This was a huge difference in the way that the women were treated. They were now going to start being treated like common criminals, and were treated exactly the same. They could have shared a cell with a rapist, murderer, e.t.c. In response to hunger strikes, a policy of force feeding was brought in. Eventually the Suffragettes protested on what was known as Black Friday (1910). The Labour party was the next party and they backed the women. They thought that the idea was very good and that women at a certain age should be able to get the vote. However, their top priority was to allow the different classed men to be able to vote and this meant letting working class men vote before higher class women. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 1914, the WSPU called off their militant campaign and focused their energy on patriotic propaganda. There was a major craze for the women of Britain, where they would walk along the streets and look for any men. If they saw any, they would simply go up to them and put a white feather into their breast pocket. This meant that if a man was ever seen on the streets with a white feather, the man would be recognised as a coward. It was known as the white feather campaign and it urged all men to go out and fight for their country. Through-out the war, many chances were given to the government to allow the right for women to vote. The war did eventually cause there to be a need for a Franchise Reform. This meant that the people wanted the right to vote to be improved and the government also thought that it should be improved because the whole country had help fight the war. There was awareness that all working class men should get the right to vote, before any of the women. The government also thought that the law preventing men that are not in the country for more than a year was an unfair law. This meant that fighter's were now allowed to vote while fighting. As well as working-class men being allowed to vote, they also decided that because they were reproducing laws for the system, they might as well let women have the right to vote also. This would stop further demonstration and needless violence. These changes all happened in the 1918 elections. Overall, it is quite clear that the First World War was the main reason for the eventual allowance for women to vote. However, a number of reasons came with this right to vote. These have been discussed thoroughly and from doing this question it has become evident to me that, if there was no World War One and World War Two for that matter, women to this day may not even have that right to vote. ...read more.

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