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The Changing Role and Status of Women in Britain Since 1900

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The Changing Role and Status of Women in Britain Since 1900 1. Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 and 1914. (15 marks) At the beginning of the 20th century the women in Great Britain suffered from traditional weaknesses in social, economic and cultural life. They had played a secondary and supporting role for men for centuries, few of them received serious education than men and were banned from most universities, most jobs and professions. If they were present in any form of employed work it was usually only as domestic servants, nurses, tutors and governesses and all these positions were usually considered as temporary because they were expected to end the moment the woman got married. In popular culture marriage was still seen as the only path through which women could find fulfilment. For this reason involvement of women in politics seemed to be a far fetched idea. Given these deep rooted cultural attitudes it was an unavoidable fact that the vast majority of men in Great Britain as well as a large but unknown proportion of women themselves felt either indifferent or totally hostile to the idea of women having the right to vote. This is one of the underlying reasons for the failure of the suffrage campaign up to 1914. ...read more.


There was a big controversy about whether to abandon free trade in favour of protectionism, there was an arms race with Germany and after the 1909 budget, and a serious constitutional conflict began over the power of the House of Lords. There were lots of industrial disputes and strikes which involved the trade union movement. All of this was the top concern of the Labour party, far more important to them than votes for women. The top priority for the Irish Nationalists was the "Irish home rule" which was a massive problem that took up a lot of time and energy for all political parties. The Conservative party was mainly opposed to giving women the vote and the Liberal party formed the government from 1905-1914 and had to struggle from day to day with all important questions of which votes for women was only one. 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? Explain your answer. (10 marks) The start of the First World War was like a total interruption to the campaign for female suffrage. In the great wave of patriotism and national unity that broke out in 1914, the reasons of he suffragettes was to call off their militant campaign, stop their protests and support the war effort. ...read more.


This disposed of the argument that it was too soon to give women the vote when not all men had the vote. The government was embraced that many poor men fighting in the war did not have the right to vote. At the end of the war both the war heroes and the war heroines needed to be rewarded for what they had done. During the second half of the war, work started in parliament, with the support of all the main parties to prepare a new law to give the vote to all men and most women. This measure became law in 1918. It was called "The representation of the people's act" and it gave the vote to men aged 21 and over and women aged 30 and over. Another factor that contributed to the new attitude of parliament was the wish to make a fresh start and to settle the question of womens' vote once and for all. In 1914, when war broke out, women decided that the nation should work together as a team. In 1915, Christabel Pankhurst led 30,000 women down White Hall chanting, "We demand the right to serve." The women played a hug role on the western front and home front. Due to their impressive help, they gained a lot of credit and had the right to vote. Pritpal Kooner Year 11 History Mr. McCann ...read more.

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