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'To what extent was the granting of the right to vote to women due to their role in the First World War?'

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Introduction

Extended Essay - Women's Suffrage Lauren Ford 5R2 'To what extent was the granting of the right to vote to women due to their role in the First World War?' The outcry for women's suffrage was an ongoing issue in Britain in a major way as early as the 1830s. From roughly the 1830s 'til 1918, women struggled to win the right to vote. This all in all denied women the same legal rights as men and furthermore offered them inferior education as they were seen as the 'weaker' race. Although some women did have the vote up until 1832, this was quite clearly not the case in the following years. Women did have the right to a decent education and also worked in the superior jobs for example lawyer or a doctor. But this made no difference when it came to politics as in 1832 the men introduced a law, which banned all women from the suffrage. As women's job prospects grew more and more superior so did their demand for the vote. But men still had the ongoing argument that all women were physically too weak to deal with politics and too interested in fashion and what dress to wear. They also stated that a female couldn't be an MP because she gets easily excited in an argument and faints. This could well be down to the fact that men at the time forced their wives to wear a tight corset under their frocks to create a desirable shape, which resulted in a lack of breath and the tendency to faint if, engaged in an argument! ...read more.

Middle

They now had many more responsibilities than ever before. They had the opportunity to work in all fields of work ranging from a bus driver to factory munitions work to civil service work with the male soldiers on the front line. Women clearly did not just sit back and let the men take all the glory for the war effort, as figures show that between the years 1914-18 the number of women working in the labour force increased by 1.5 million. Most women could now work in areas of work, which had previously been deemed as 'unsuitable' for them. Two very popular and important fields that needed to be filled were that of the munitions and farming. The factory munitions work was indeed an extremely dangerous job to fill, which didn't seem to put most women off as during the war roughly 950.000 women worked in the munitions factories. The work was extremely dangerous and in one explosion in an East London factory, 12 women were killed. Final figures showed that well over 200 women were killed in munitions factories during World War One. Others suffered health problems e.g. poisoning because of the dangerous chemicals the women were using. Many of the workers working in the munitions industry were in actual fact women. In 1914 there were 212,000 women working in the munitions industry, by the end of the war this figure had increased to 950,000. ...read more.

Conclusion

The situation of war is about as hard as it could get and women proved men's views that had been prominent for centuries to be wrong. Women had proved themselves in the years of 1914-18 not to be 'weak, emotional, inferior and over excited' but in actual fact strong, brave and responsible with the superiority of the majority of males in working Britain. In a way the suffrage campaigns prior to World War One did have a slight input on them gaining the vote as it highlighted their sheer determination to the male run parliament that they wanted the vote with passion. Although, as evidence proves, the women did show themselves to be out of order by far in many cases when it came to the suffragette campaign led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Their tactics were too radical and degrading and proved them not to be responsible and tactical in many ways. So, the women really did prove themselves during the four years of war (1914-18) as being able to deal with the responsibility of the vote after their role in the war. Working in ammunitions, on the front line and in the Women's Land Army to produce food for the country and fighting soldiers all helped to keep Britain running as a strong country and to go on and win the war. Overall, the granting of the right to vote to women was due to their role in the First World War to a significant extent. 2000 words. ...read more.

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