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To What Extent Did The Campaigns For Women Suffrage Lead To Women Gaining The Vote?

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Laura Paterson 11CY Candidate no.- 1174 To What Extent Did The Campaigns For Women Suffrage Lead To Women Gaining The Vote? Throughout the nineteenth century, the suffragists and the suffragettes worked hard campaigning for women suffrage. Finally, in 1918, the vote was given to women, but only women over thirty. But suffrage campaigns, although important, were not the only reason that the franchise was granted. Some other reasons include, a fear of the return of suffragette activity, the government following an international trend, the government making changes to the voting system anyway, and the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, being more sympathetic to the cause that the previous Prime Minister was. The long-term factor was, in fact, the suffrage campaigns. Both the suffragists and the suffragettes had very different styles of campaigning. The suffragist's tactics were based on putting steady pressure on politicians, by holding lectures, organising marches, publishing leaflets and gathering petitions. They were led by Millicent Fawcett, and the group consisted of mainly middle class women, although many working class women were recruited. However, the suffragette's tactics were nearly the opposite, for they used militant tactics to attract as much attention as they could. ...read more.


Even though the suffragists weren't too keen on these methods, they led to political debate, which put the women's right to vote back on the political agenda. Historian, Paula Bartley believes that the government used the violence as an excuse to withhold the right to vote; they feared that other groups would adopt similar tactics. However, the government and the suffragists were not the only people to oppose the campaigns. The press ridiculed women by portraying suffragettes as ugly middle-aged women, so that they would lose all the respect and support of men that they had worked so hard at gaining. In 1914, when war was declared, the suffragettes dropped their violent tactics to show their patriotism. Women were set to work in their husband's places and this process later became known as dilution. From 1915, women moved into 'war work', this was when they started work as nurses, in the armed forces and in the voluntary services. All these jobs were deemed unsuitable for women in pre-war years. This made it seem as if the attitudes of men were changing. ...read more.


Lloyd George felt grateful towards the suffragettes and the suffragists, because he needed women to working the men's places, during the war, and the suffragists and the suffragettes encouraged this. This may explain why women were included in the changes, because David Lloyd George was sympathetic towards them. At the time, politicians stated that women's 'war work' brought about the franchise. Women had now won the right to have a say in how the country was run because they had served their country well. But if that was true, why did only women over 30 get the vote, when it was mainly the younger, working class women who did most of the work? It seemed that the government only gave suffrage to the less radical women, and 'war work' was not such an important factor after all. Suffrage campaigns were important to the gaining of the franchise, because without the campaigns, the support, the publicity, the changing opinions and putting the topic back on the political agenda, it is very unlikely that women would have gained the vote. As women hadn't yet gained the vote by 1914, it proves that even though the suffrage campaigns were important, there was a trigger cause needed. ...read more.

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