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

Why did women gain the vote in 1918?

Extracts from this document...


Why did women gain the vote in 1918? In 1918, women gained the vote. Historians have suggested that there was no one reason for this legislative change, but several, often related reasons. In this piece, we shall draw out some of these reasons, which include suffrage campaigns, diplomacy, militancy, the women's war effort, and the positive effects of publicity arising from these actions. Diplomacy was used from the inception of the campaign, between 1860 and 1908 by two campaigning groups, the WSPU and the NUWSS. Meetings and demonstrations were held at venues such as the Albert Hall to publicize the issue of votes for women, featuring campaigners such as Lydia Becker. One of the most important meetings was held at the 'Women's Parliament' at Caxton Hall which protested against their exclusion from the franchise. Demonstrations also took place, one of the largest was in 1907, organized by the NUWSS, and became known as the Mud March, due to the weather conditions at the time. Another important demonstration held by the WSPU, which was in response to the failure of the first Conciliation Bill in 1910, became known as 'Black Friday' as protestors were treated brutally by police officers. ...read more.


In 1911, the Women's Freedom League organized a boycott of the census, which was supported by the WSPU and the NUWSS. They encouraged women to stay overnight at their headquarters to avoid census officials and provided all night entertainment. In 1908, the WSPU decided to increase political pressure and used confrontational methods to force MPs to enfranchise women. Suffragettes adopted militancy as a response to the failure of their peaceful campaigns, and their reaction to the Liberal government of 1906 who denied the suffragettes their right to protest legally, and who force-fed women in prison. They felt that militancy was the only alternative and it challenged male supremacy, therefore the WSPU were seen as heroic and modern feminists. Some illegal methods of militancy included window smashing, the first attack occurred in 1908 at 10 Downing Street, after Mary Leigh and Edith New had their deputations refused by the Prime Minister. This tactic was then adopted by the WSPU, who made it their official policy. Emily Davidson committed the first arson attack in 1911, after she set a pillar-box alight. This brought militancy to a new level, as it spread through Britain and became official WSPU policy. ...read more.


The invaluable support given by both organisations showed that women were reliable and mature and could do the same jobs as men just as well. In addition to these reasons, the main contributing factor, which gave women the vote, was the political change in 1916. The Coalition Government of 1916 meant that no single party would benefit from women's suffrage, as at this time party divisions were less important. Women had showed their determination for the vote by their suffrage campaigns before the war and their contribution during the war, which showed that they deserved to be enfranchised, unlike in France where women were denied the vote, as they had not been any women's suffrage movements before the war, even though they helped with the war effort. Britain was also keeping up an international trend by enfranchising women as other countries such as Iceland and New Zealand had already given women the vote. As we have seen, there were many contributing factors to women's enfranchisement. However, there is probably not one single reason. Although women's work during the war undoubtedly brought women's utility into public view, there were many contributing factors for why women were enfranchised, and one reason was the general political change during the war and the many MPs who sympathised with women. ...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. Why did women fail to gain the vote between 1900-1914?

    The suffragist campaign emphasised the responsibilities carried by most women. Very strong arguments came up about the fact that women DID NOT have the right to vote and nor should they ever. A handbill that was published by the NUWSS, this handbill held a very strong argument!

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

    totalled one hundred thousand, the WSPU even at its peak had only two thousand members. It is very difficult to assess the contributions of these two organisations as separate entities as they had a common goal, votes for women, which they both fought equally hard for in their own ways.

  1. Choose one reason and explain how it contributed to women being given the vote ...

    militant Suffragettes demonstrated the limitations on the power of propaganda to bring about social and political change. `As mentioned previously militancy largely came about due to the rejection of the W.S.P.U. by the Independent Labour Party. It has been suggested that this was due to the fact that the issue of female enfranchisement was thought by the I.L.P.

  2. The First World War, and the womans actions during it, was the key reason ...

    that the First World War did not have a lasting an impact on women's rights, it does recognize that women significantly helped with the war effort: '...women made a substantial contribution to the war...' Thus, the role of women was crucial in helping with the running of the country; in helping daily life seem as normal as possible.

  1. Why did women gain the vote in 1918?

    You would have found that most of the campaigners were middle class women. All the groups around the country united to form one big group called the NUWSS, which stood for 'National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies'. They were led by Millicent Fawcett and they thought that peaceful demonstrations were the way forward.

  2. Explain why women failed to gain the vote before 1914?

    Her game plan was patience and logical arguments: she hoped by writing letters, lobbying MP's and by holding meetings would win women the vote. She believed women campaigned for a wide variety of causes. This included helping Josephine Butler in her campaign against the white slave traffic.

  1. Big Brother! - creative writing

    12 - The Big Brother pyschologist replays the footage of Eggo touching Alison's Bum over and over again. This is because it shows an interesting psychological incident, of course, not because it will increase the viewing figures. Big Brother sets the housemates the task of jogging on a running machine for twice the circumferance of the globe.

  2. Why Were Women Given the Vote in 1918?

    "No race or class or sex can have its interests represented in Parliament unless it has the vote." (Why Women Want the Vote, taken from a leaflet, 1907). Women were put in the same category as lunatics and convicts (apart from those who did not meet the property qualification)

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