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Why Were Women Given the Vote in 1918?

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Introduction

Why Were Women Given the Vote in 1918? Women were not treated as equals with men before the second half of the eighteenth century. They had to marry, obey their husbands and have children, only receiving little education. In the eyes of the law they had little power and men were their superiors. For example, once they were married, everything they owned belonged to their husband, this meant that if they separated the women would be left with nothing, not even her children, as they too, belonged solely to the husband. Around 1850, the rights of women started to change, as laws were made to improve women's education and rights in marriage. However women were still not allowed to vote in the general elections. Many women considered this as a huge prejudice, and that they would have to carry on being second-class citizens until they received the right to vote because a lot of women thought that having a say in general elections would give them more opportunities and rights. Before 1918, only men had the vote, even though they had to qualify by meeting the property qualification (which was someone who earned 40 shillings a year and was a freeholder). Therefore, not all men did qualify, but many women did qualify, and as a result could vote in local elections. Women did have very strong arguments to give them the vote. ...read more.

Middle

For example, Mary Wollstonecraft really got the campaign under way by targeting the ordinary workingwomen. And MP, John Stuart Mill campaigned for suffrage for women. He introduced the motion for female suffrage into Parliament but was defeated in 1867. Short-term causes include the female suffrage societies. In 1897, all the women's suffrage groups merged to form the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). They were named the Suffragists. They used a peaceful method of campaigning for the vote, made up of mainly middle-class women and lead by Millicent Fawcett. They wanted, "to show the world how to gain reforms without violence, without killing people and blowing up buildings and doing other silly things that men have done when they wanted the laws altered." Their campaign mainly consisted of handing out leaflets, collecting signatures for petitions and they often held meetings, including meetings with MP's to argue their case. They backed the MP's that supported women's suffrage. However by the 1900, women still had not got the vote, regardless of over half of the MP's being in favour of women's suffrage. The subject had been in parliament fifteen times but rejected all of those times. The leader of the NUWSS, Millicent Fawcett said that her movement was 'like a glacier', meaning that it was slow but once started it could not be stopped, and it was awfully powerful. Some women thought that the Suffragists' campaign was far too slow and they grew impatient. ...read more.

Conclusion

In other countries such as France women too worked in the war but did not receive the vote, historians believe that this may be due to the lack of campaigning that the French women did before the war. It was also thought that (before the war) when Prime Minister Asquith was in power he was not in favour of women's suffrage and he did not want to give them the vote because of the violent campaigns of the suffragettes. He felt that if he gave into the violent women then he would have to give in to the other violent parties as well. Therefore he didn't want to be seen as a weak Prime Minister who gives in at times of trouble. Many countries around the world such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the USA had given the vote to women or were introducing it. Britain could not be seen as the one that is left behind. Having evaluated all of the evidence I believe that all the mentioned factors all contributed to women receiving the vote and that they are all interlinked with each other and each factor made getting women the suffrage happen a bit faster. I agree with this statement: "There were three stages in the emancipation of women... the long campaign of propaganda and organisation (the Suffragists)...the campaign of the militants (the Suffragettes)...war. Had there been no militancy and no war, the emancipation of women would have come, although more slowly. But without (the work of the Suffragists), neither militancy nor the War could have produced the crop." ...read more.

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