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Was it the suffragette's campaign before the war which won women the vote in 1918?

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Introduction

Was it the suffragette's campaign before the war which won women the vote in 1918? It is difficult to trace the origins of the women's suffrage movement due to its slow and erratic beginnings. However the year 1866 was a significant landmark in suffragist history, when a petition was formed demanding the enfranchisement of all householders regardless of sex. The petition, signed by almost 1,500 women was taken to the House of Commons and as a result many independent suffrage societies were set up across the country which amalgamated in 1868 to become the National Society for Women's Suffrage, which denoted the moment when organised national action began. Over time it appeared as though attitudes were changing, as women began to gain the vote, in states across the US and Australia and even for Parliament in New Zealand. ...read more.

Middle

The government responded to the suffragettes' actions with longer sentences which in turn caused the first of many hunger strikes by Marion Wallace Dunlop in 1909. The aim of which was to draw attention to the cause through personal sacrifice. In many senses the suffragettes achieved what they wanted as, subsequent to the hunger strikes the government introduced forcible-feeding which shows that they were taking notice of their actions. Each time that the suffragettes increased their militancy the government responded either through arrests or legislation until a stalemate was reached in 1913. Nevertheless shortly afterwards in June 1914 the Prime Minister, Asquith held a meeting with the East London Federation of Suffragettes (ELFS), a working class branch of the WSPU organised by Sylvia Pankhurst and conveyed the distinct impression that he had changed his views towards votes for women. ...read more.

Conclusion

Though at first the government did not think that it was necessary to employ women from 1915 onwards there was a great shortage of labour due to the large number of men joining the armed forces and the demand for increased munitions production and as a result women were employed. Additionally, when in 1916 conscription was introduced it heightened the need of female labour. Furthermore it was not only female labour which added to the war effort, other women joined the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACS), the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRENS) or the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAFS) Therefore in March 1917 Asquith introduced a Bill in which he justified women's suffrage because of their war work and the ending of the suffragette campaign. ...read more.

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