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Why, despite the suffragette activity, had women not gained the vote by the outbreak of the First World War?

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Introduction

Why, despite the suffragette activity, had women not gained the vote by the outbreak of the First World War? There were many reasons why women had not gained the vote by the outbreak of the First World War. To understand these reasons fully we must first study sources D and E. Source D is a written source and was written by Emiline Pankhurst, the leader of the suffragettes. It is an extract from her book entitled "My own Story". The source is a justification for the suffragette's militant methods. In 1906 the suffragettes were following Millicent Fawcett, founder of the suffragists. They used peaceful, non-violent methods to express their views but were unheard by parliament. Frustrated, the suffragettes took a different approach to campaigning for suffrage. The suffragettes realised the importance of publicity for their cause; they needed to keep the issue in the news. The problem was, they were not at the top of the government's priorities. There were issues to be dealt with in Ireland, a potential war threat and Britain was concerned primarily with defending its empire. ...read more.

Middle

This meant that the government would discharge a woman as soon as she was becoming too ill, then re-arrest her when she was better. The suffragette's campaign was certainly successful in keeping the issue in the news. To help their campaign, they made banners and sashes illustrating their rights. They decorated their banners and sashes and dressed themselves in white, green and purple. Source E is also a written source. It is part of a speech given by a 'conservative' Member of Parliament. We know this because the source shows a strong, traditional view against women getting the vote. In this view women were the feeble sex, they were not clever enough or firm enough to have the vote. They believed women to have a number of disabilities that would be a problem if they had the vote: physical, biological and emotional. They believed women were emotional and this could overshadow their better judgement when it came to voting. Conservative men also feared for society; they thought that if women had the vote then they would drop all responsibilities in the home and would not stay home to look after the children or keep the house, as it should traditionally be. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their violent and spontaneous campaigns meant the government could not trust them. Looking at all these factors, we can conclude that women did not have the vote by the outbreak of the First World War for various reasons. The government had the pressing issues of conflict in Europe, Trade Union activity and the home rule in Ireland, so although the suffragettes had made women's suffrage an issue, it was not one of the most importance. There were also disagreements on how to give women the vote, how could they give women the vote if not all men had it? Parliament was not the only people with conflicting opinions; the suffragettes themselves were not united. There were many disagreements on the scale of violence to be used. Some felt it needed to be stronger and some felt that they needed to be calmer. When Herbert Asquith became the new Prime Minister it became even harder for women to see themselves ever having the vote. Asquith was very conservative and held the views of a traditional male. These reasons taken into consideration, including the evidence of sources D and E show us why women did not have the vote by the outbreak of the First World War. ...read more.

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