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

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Why did a campaign for women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870? During the 19th century, women had no political rights. There had been some movement in the advance for women, but on the whole, men in society saw women as being 'of weaker mental power than men'. A woman's destiny was marriage, motherhood and a life of domesticity. Men considered themselves to be the only sex capable of making political decisions. It was this kind of thinking that accelerated women's campaign for suffrage, the right to vote, in the years after 1870. Men's role in the 19th century was very different to that of women's. Men were educated, something what eluded most women, only the very wealthy may have had the opportunity for an education. At home, a woman was expected to 'obey' her husband which was written into the marriage ceremony and not until the 20th century did women obtain the right to remove that promise from the wedding vows. ...read more.


As a result of her endless campaigning for justice, laws were changed. In 1839, the Infants and Child Custody Act allowed women to ask for custody of children under seven. Before this fathers were given total custody of the children regardless of the reasons of divorce. This was followed by the Matrimonial Cause Act in 1857, which meant that a woman could now get a divorce which previously had required a special act of Parliament costing a significant amount of money. However, although this was a positive change, the Act was still biased to men. The reason for this was that a man could divorce a woman on grounds of adultery but this was insufficient grounds for a woman. Women had to prove a charge of desertion, incest or extreme cruelty to secure a divorce. ...read more.


The Education Act also permitted women to vote on school boards and become part of the board. For the first time women had voting power in the society. This made gaining suffrage a realistic goal in women's minds. In conclusion, the campaign for women's suffrage developed in the years after 1870 because they now felt they could get the vote. The 19th century had seen a lot of changes in the law which had made a difference to women's role in society yet they still did not have the vote. For women to feel that they were anywhere close to being on equal terms with men, gaining the right to vote was non - negotiable. The work of women like Caroline Norton and Millicent Garrett Fawcett paved the way for women to continue to develop their campaign for suffrage in 1870 and beyond. The commitment of these many women was finally rewarded when on 28th December 1918 women voted for the first time in Britain. Stephanie Dunne Stephanie Dunne ...read more.

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