• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why did a campaign for women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870?

Extracts from this document...


History Coursework Votes for Women Q1. Why did a campaign for women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870? The late 19th Century, as a period where social unrest was prevalent, became the major starting point of social, political and economic reform in Britain. Social groups were beginning to demand that their voices be heard by government in order to improve standard of living, working conditions and education opportunities. This period of reform was echoed by the height of the campaign for female emancipation. As the first trade unions and strikes were being organised by miners, labourers and other male workers, female workers and women in general were beginning to demand improvements in their legal, social and financial positions. New acts and reform bills were steadily introduced from around the mid 19th Century, improving women's rights. E.g. The 1839 Custody of Infants Act gave more rights to divorced women to see their children (although the father still had almost complete control of the children), and the factory Acts of 1842 and 1847 reduced maximum working hours for women in textile factories. At this time, many of Britain's poorest and most exploited people were women. By 1900 there were over 5 million wage-earning women in Britain, most of them grossly underpaid, working in awful conditions. These issues of poverty and inequality formed the background of the demand for votes for women. ...read more.


Although originating from a similar viewpoint, the WSPU and NUWSS were vastly different organisations. Whereas the Suffragists (NUWSS) were largely non-political, the Suffragettes were closely linked with the Labour party, whose party meetings were often attended by the Pankhursts as speakers. In addition, the Suffragists had a vast grass-root support system among working class women, whereas the Suffragettes had very few working class members (Annie Kenney being a high profile example). The early examples of the Suffragette's disruptive campaign included members attending political party meetings and heckling politicians/speakers with questions on how they intended to work for female suffrage, resulting in their removal and often, arrest. Rather than pay fines, many members opted to be jailed in order to further publicise the campaign. This publicity attracted new recruits and encouraged the WSPU's militant approach. The WSPU declared 'war' on the Liberal government for failing o do anything for votes for women. Leading liberal politicians were heckled during speeches, their houses picketed and demonstrations were held and disturbances caused outside the Houses of Parliament. More arrests and refusals to pay resulted in longer prison stays where women were forced to wear prison uniforms, denied visits or letters. This was another victory for the WSPU propaganda machine. They were able to show that their members were being treated more harshly than some hardened criminals, forcing the government to back down. ...read more.


dangerous jobs which really triggered the major changes which made the government's decision to give women the vote generally more acceptable to the public and therefore more likely to be introduced. While the men were fighting on the front line during WW1, the women were taking on the traditionally 'men-only' jobs on the home front. Women were becoming postal workers, bus conductors and mechanics out of necessity in order to aid the war effort and it was in these professions where many women proved themselves to be capable of much more than was traditionally expected of them, and earned the grudging respect and support of politicians who have previously been opposed to the female suffrage campaign. The fact that women had really earned acknowledgement for their efforts during the war was a great influence on the decision of politicians and the government to give some women the vote. Another influence might have been that the government were unwilling to come up against Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragettes and their temporarily called-off violent campaign now that the war was over. In conclusion, I agree with the original statement because I feel that the government would have been reluctant to introduce the radical and traditionally opposed idea of votes for women without the major social change and subsequent change in public opinion which was due to the changing face of industry and economical & social power which now included rather than disregarded women. Natalya Frederick 11JT ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Britain 1905-1951 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Britain 1905-1951 essays

  1. Haig Coursework

    new weapons in warfare, which Haig wasn't used to because he spent the major years in the British army fighting the Boer wars when they were using we opens which were not on the same level as the ones they had when they were fighting, he even put on Horses in the trenches.

  2. Outline and assess the contributions made by the NUWSS and the WSPU to the ...

    The leaders of the WSPU also suspended actions for the votes for women campaign and concentrated their efforts in recruiting young men for the armed forces. It seems that both organisations played a major part in getting the vote in 1918, it would be hard to decide if one had more influence than the other.

  1. Women's Suffrage Sources Questions

    The First World War gave women a chance to prove the men wrong, and they did it very well. Women acquired the vote in 1918 as in 1915, the government realised that it had a problem with the old voting system.

  2. How important were Haig's tactics in bringing an end to WW1?

    In 1917, the 'battle of Cambrai' began. Haig ordered 100 tanks although he still did not think that they were the wonder weapon and neither did the Germans. The Allies' new weapon was the tank and the new German weapon was the pillbox. It was a box of concrete with holes in it big enough for a few machineguns to fire at the approaching Allies.

  1. The Changing roles of women

    The start of the Open University in 1971 meant that married women could study for a degree at home, whilst bringing up the children. Again, only the better- off women could do this, as university costs a lot of money.

  2. Dunkirk - Defeat, Deliverance or Victory?

    The sheer speed this evacuation was put together will always make this a victory, and the pause in German advances was a very harsh mistake made. Operation Dynamo can be seen as an utter success, which should be recognized in years to come.

  1. The struggle for the emancipation of women.

    Encouraged by this the Suffragettes campaigned endlessly for the Liberals and they won, so the Suffragettes were in celebration but there celebrations were cut short when the liberals decided not to give women the vote. This made the suffragettes very angry.

  2. Why did a campaign for women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870?

    This unity between the two campaigns was a strong one (although in some cases it was that the Suffragists saw their violent comrades as having more of a negative effect on the cause more than a positive one), and was another reason that the movement for the enfranchisement of women

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work