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To what extent did the campaigns for women's suffrage lead to the women gaining the right to vote in 1918?

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Introduction

To what extent did the campaigns for women's suffrage lead to the women gaining the right to vote in 1918? The campaigns for women's suffrage played a vital role in women gaining the right to vote in 1918, however it was not the only factor, the role of women in the war also played a large part in women gaining the right to vote. There were two main campaigns for women's suffrage, The Suffragists and The Suffragettes, they were united in their cause but they were total opposites in terms of the methods they used. Women had been campaigning for the right to vote since the nineteenth century; the first organisation for women's suffrage was set up in 1851 in Sheffield, from then on there were many campaigns for women's suffrage being set up. The two main groups both came form the organisation that Milicent Fawcett started in 1897 but it split into two groups in 1903, the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (Suffragists) which was led by Milicent Fawcett and the Woman's Social and Political Union (Suffragettes) which was led by Emmeline Pankhurst. There were many reasons other than the right to vote as to why there were many women's campaign for the right to vote. Women didn't feel that they were being treated fairly in society and they weren't, once a woman married they were stripped almost totally of all their rights. ...read more.

Middle

women to lodge a legitimate protest, Emmeline Pankhurst the leader of the Suffragettes said the no people had been awarded the vote with out some use of force, the government couldn't ignore women for ever if they were constantly in the newspapers. The Prime Minister Asquith argued that giving in to the women would only encourage other groups to use violent methods of protest, the government kept the right to vote for women at the bottom of their agenda, although they did also have other important issues to discuss like the problems with the trade unions this angered the woman campaigning for the women's right to vote. However in 1911 things looked like they could start to get better, the government gave the first reading to the Conciliation Bill, if this got passed women would be given the right to vote, the suffragists held meetings in support of the bill and the suffragettes stopped their militant activity. The government supported this bill, it was passed by a majority of 167 and it was supported by all the political parties, it looked like the vote would be given to women, however it was decided that the parliament would proceed with the bill next year, but in November the government replace this the franchise bill, this didn't even mention women. Women reacted to this by waves of violence across the country which included women setting fire to buildings and post-boxes. ...read more.

Conclusion

However many men had died during the war leaving their wives as widows, they had to support their family themselves and earn money, people still assumed that women would have husbands to support them, the press portrayed the women and steeling the men's jobs whilst a few months earlier they had said they were indispensable to the war effort. In 1918 and act called the Representation of the people was passed, this allowed women over the age 30 to vote. It is debateable to what extent the campaigns for women's suffrage led to this but they must have had some effect, they got the government thinking about giving the vote to women maybe it was just that the war was the deciding factor in women gaining the right to vote or that it was solely responsible for women gaining the right to vote, but this is unlikely as the government was already giving in to women before the war started, women could vote in local elections and the government had voted on bills to give women the vote, the vote might have come to women even if the war hadn't started. It is possible that the war may have even delayed women getting the vote as it was taken off the political agenda during the war to make way for more important things. I believe that the campaigns were the main reason that women got the vote; if they hadn't shown that they wanted the vote so badly it is unlikely that the government would have considered giving it to them. Alec Savitsky ...read more.

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