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Votes For women - history

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Introduction

GCSE HISTORY- VOTES FOR WOMEN 1900- 1928 Study Source A. What can you learn from Source A about the reasons given by the Suffragettes for demanding votes for women? The Suffragettes were members of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a new women's suffrage organisation. Founded in Manchester in 1903 by the Pankhurst family, the approach was very much different from the moderate and law-abiding NUWSS - National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. The Suffragettes were a radical militant organisation who had no qualms about using weaponry or any kind of other forces, which could reverse a situation or influence a judgement. Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst was a prominent figure in the WSPU. In her autobiography she outlines the plan of the Suffragettes, 'to secure for women the Parliamentary vote as it or may be granted to men'. Women fought for the vote as a means to an end. The vote had been a key factor in safeguarding the interests of men, and now women were demanding the same. Little progress could be made to improve women's working conditions, for example, until MP's were made accountable to female voters. They wanted the vote because all the important and lucrative positions are barred to them and opportunities of public service are denied. Source A is a poster produced in 1912 by the Suffragette in order to publicise their highly debatable campaign about women having the prestigious right to vote. In those days, puritanical or male dominated society prevailed. This meant that men had all the power, in this case the vote. As they had the vote, they elected their leaders and they set the law. Due to this, not getting education and not receiving the privileges, the men, suppressed the women and made them raise their voice in heavy protest . This implied that little was done to improve the women's lives. The top half of the poster shows that women can hold lucrative jobs if given a chance and yet do not have the vote. ...read more.

Middle

Giving the vote on the same terms as men meant partiality to the Conservative party. For this reason the Labour Party started to lose interest in this subject. While the campaigns for vote for women seemed to be making some progress, hopes of success received a serious blow. In March 1908, Herbert Asquith replaced Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell- Bannerman. Bannerman was in support of the votes, but Asquith wasn't. He was adamant on the fact that until a majority of Britain was in favour of it, no change was going to be brought about. The increased violence during 1912 had important results for the WSPU. Emmeline and Fredrick Pethick Lawrence left the WSPU and began to work on their own for votes for women. The increased Suffragette violence also brought to an end any co- operation between the WSPU and NUWSS. This fizzed out the women's Suffrage activities as most of the prominent figures diverged in their different fields. A prominent reason for the women not receiving the vote was the actions taken by the suffragette campaign. Their violent campaigns convinced the government that they were little better than terrorists and handing them the vote would mean attracting a hundred more Wars and developing boisterous ministers. Source D and Source E, both contradict each other. The leading member of the Suffragette's, Emmeline Pankhurst, has written source D and talks about the violent campaign of the Suffragette's and what good did it do to the vote. She is very clear in her argument and clearly states that the politicians were only ready to give the vote if two-thirds of the population were in favour of it. She goes on to say that in 1906, a large section of the population was in favour of the vote, however the government did nothing to award the vote. This is the primary reason why they started acting violent in order to assert themselves on the government. ...read more.

Conclusion

It soon became clear that the men, who had the vote till 1914, now had lost it as they no longer qualified under the household franchise. So the government decided to give all men above the age of 21, the vote. This was done in the Representation of The People Act of 1918.This Act gave the government a golden opportunity, to introduce the vote to the women and thus end the massive debate. Before 1914, the government did not want to succumb to women, but now they had no such fear. By 1918 there were few politicians who were against the vote as women had played a very important role during the war and most of the old arguments against women were no longer valid. Even Asquith said that no praise could be snatched from women, for the effort they put in the war. Finally in 1917, there were 364 votes in favour and 23 against votes for women. During that time, many legal changes led to women having equal rights as men. In 1919, the Sex Discrimination Act made discrimination against women illegal. In 1922 the Law property Act entitled women to have equal rights to inherit property. In 1923, divorce became easier. Women also gained more control over their lives as contraception was introduced. After the war, several professions accepted women as they recognised their importance. Women started working as teachers in school, doctors etc. Legal and Social changes soon made the restrictions on the voting rights for women look pointless. Women were also given a greater role in politics as the government realised that women were responsible and sensible voters. They did not misuse the vote. As one can see, there were many reasons why women were given the vote. During that time, the Suffragettes had stalled their campaign and that also helped in some way. Britain was on the verge of countless changes and not offering women the vote meant snatching the bread from a child's hand. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sushant Goel History Coursework Form: 10D Teacher: Mr.Connoly ...read more.

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