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

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Introduction

Q1. Why did a campaign for women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870? A campaign for women's suffrage developed in the years after 1870 because many women felt that their position in society needed to be improved and to achieve this the franchise was required. The position of women before 1870 was politically and socially weak. They were regarded as inferiors to men and were believed to be weaker mentally and physically. They had fewer civil rights than men, for example, once married all their property belonged to their husband. They also had fewer opportunities in education and careers and lower pay than men. Women knew that the only way to better their position in society was to better their position in politics. The first step was to get the vote; by doing this women would have the means of achieving change and would have influence in politics and society. This is one of the reasons why from the 1860s societies for women's suffrage were established in cities like Manchester and London. In 1866 a window of opportunity was opened for the campaigners, a Reform Bill changed the law to include a wider variety of people in the electorate. ...read more.

Middle

with women's rights such as the Girls Public Day School Trust in 1872 because they felt that this method would provide more benefits for women that just campaigning for the vote. In contrast the WSPU had a more focused approach; Mrs Pankhurst said that 'no member of the WSPU divides her attention between suffrage and other social reforms'. There were some similarities between the two groups. They both had a newspaper. The WSPU's was called 'Votes for Women'; the NUWSS's was called 'The Common Cause'. Both groups used fundraising, speeches and posters to put across their message. Also, they both had colours that represented them. Another similarity is that both societies had women from a variety of different social backgrounds involved in their campaigning. Within the suffragist movement their were radical suffragists such as the working-class Ada Nield Chew who worked with more upper class women like Eva Gore-Booth. Within the suffragette movement there was also women of a working class background, most famously Annie Kenney, and women of higher social status for example, the Pankhursts involved in the movement. Q3. Women over 30 gained the vote in 1918 mainly because of women's contribution to the war effort. ...read more.

Conclusion

Examples of militancy that gained the movement much needed press-coverage were the frequent hunger strikes and violent demonstrations of the WSPU. The militancy put a lot of pressure on the government because it showed that they could not control the women. This may have led to the government giving the vote to women over 30 because they felt that it was the only way to end the militancy. Another point is that without the campaign, including the NUWSS's contribution to it, the movement would not have been sufficiently organised to coordinate efficient wartime contributions. My final point is that it may not have been the women's contribution to the war that gained women the vote but simply the occurrence of the war in itself. After the war, the government wanted the country to have a new start and to be 'a place fit for heroes'. The government felt that it must show the people that the war, with its many fatalities, had been for a reason and that the reason was that it had created a fairer, more equal society without a class system. Due to the fact that at this time many people were thinking about the structure of society in a different way they also began to think about the inequality between men and women. This lead the government to feel that they must sanction votes for women in the ROPA (1918). ...read more.

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