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what was more important in women achieving the vote; the first world war or the suffrage movement

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Introduction

G.C.S.E History coursework: Task 1 Which was more important in women achieving the vote; the First World War or the suffrage movement? By 1900, the position of women had improved vastly but still not far enough. Between 1800 and 1900. We found women beginning to be educated and go to schools; it even became compulsory for girls under ten to go to school. It wasn't just education that was improving, the jobs that women could do were changing too. They could now do teaching, nursing and also work in a shop. The only problem is that they were paid low wages for long hours. The legal status of women had also changed. They could now get custody of their children if they got divorced and own land of their own. The National Union of Women's Suffrage Society (NUWSS) was formed in 1897 when smaller organisations such as the Female Political Union and the Manchester Women's Suffrage Committee decided to merge together to create a much larger organisation. They named this the NUWSS. The founder was Millicent Fawcett, wife of Henry Fawcett, a Liberal MP. The early NUWSS was mostly middle class women. They were not campaigning for votes for all women, only on equal level to men. For example, if a man owned property he was allowed to vote, so the NUWSS believed women who owned property should be allowed to vote too. ...read more.

Middle

All WSPU members in prison wanted to be treated as political prisoners instead of common criminals. When they were refused the right they decided to go on hunger strike. The prisons did not want starving women on their hands and soon the process of force feeding was brought into the prisons. There was a public outcry about the treatment of women in prisons. So, in April 1913, the government brought out the Prisoners Temporary Discharge for Ill Health Act, this meant hunger strikers who became too ill were released until they were well again then re-arrested to serve the remainder of their sentence. This was nicknamed the 'cat and mouse' act because it resembled the way a cat plays cruelly with a mouse, releasing it then catching it again. After all this the NUWSS were struggling to keep people on their side but the WSPU ignored and carried on. The most remembered was the death of Emily Davison in June 1913 when she ran out in front of the kings horse Anmer at the derby. The suffragettes hailed her a martyr whereas the Daily Mail decided her actions were stupid and risky. When the Fist World War broke out in 1914, 5.9 million women were working in Britain out of the total female population of 23.7 million. The most common jobs that women worked in were domestic services and textiles although they did work in other jobs such as teaching and nurse those were the most common. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many people believed without the war women would not have gained the vote. Lord Birkenhead said, in 1928 'had it not been for the war, in my judgement we should have continued successfully to resist this measure for an indefinite period of time' though the women laid the ground work the war was the trigger factor that gained women the vote faster. The campaigning before the war was also important. The 50 years of campaigning before the war were not put to waste. Many people believe that the suffragist movement set the ground work for women to realize they could do the 'men's work' during the war. If it had not there is a possibility women would not have gone so readily into war work. The guardian newspaper wrote in 1929 'had there been no militancy and no war; the emancipation of women would have come, although more slowly. But without faithful preparation of the ground over many years by Dame Millicent Fawcett and her colleagues, neither militancy nor the war could have produced the crop' this very much shows peoples beliefs that the campaigning helped just as much if not more than the war in gaining women the vote. With all this evidence taken into consideration, I feel that both the suffrage movement and the war contributed evenly to women gaining the vote in 1918. ...read more.

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