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Why women were not successful in gaining the right to vote between 1900 and 1914

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In the following essay I intend to explain why women were not successful in gaining the right to vote between 1900 and 1914, the campaigning that took place by the women, and also why these campaigns were unsuccessful in achieving the women's right to vote. In the 1800's women did not have equal rights as men. In particular they did not have the right to vote. Many men (and women) felt that it was not ladylike for women to vote, work, or receive an education. Politicians argued that women were not capable of putting forward rational ideas on political matters. Women were considered to have separate spheres to men, and that a woman's role was in local affairs, women were also believed to be represented by their husbands, and many women also agreed with this. However, the demand for women's right to vote began seriously in the United States in the 1840's, a number of women, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), and Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), campaigned for the same voting rights against men. ...read more.


Such activities attracted a lot of publicity for the women's suffrage movement. Just when it looked like the Suffragettes were gaining the sympathy of people by going on hunger strike in prison, the government passed the 'Cat and Mouse' Act which released them until they recovered, but were later brought back to prison to complete their sentence. A classic tactic for the suffragettes was the non-violent protest that involved chaining themselves to railings and forcing the police to arrest them and the courts to punish them (see image below). This resulted in publicity for the cause and it made out that the state was oppressing women in a very direct way. This was a bit of a pantomime. The police did not want to oppress them, or arrest them, but were forced into the confrontation. In 1912, the Suffragettes applied new militant tactics as hundreds of women took to the streets of London. They attacked shops on Oxford Street and The Strand smashing windows and even threw stones at 10 Downing Street. ...read more.


However, when the bill was passed, it only extended male voting rights. In spite of the tireless campaigning by the Suffragists, progress was slow. As a result, some British Suffragists turned to direct action. Although, many supported the idea of women gaining the vote, there were some people who strongly believed that the cause of women's suffrage was wrong. In 1908, a novelist and social worker, Mrs. Humphrey Ward started the Women's Anti-Suffrage League. She as many others believed that a woman's righteous place was in the home, and any spare energy and time should be spent helping those less fortunate than herself and not fighting for her right's. In conclusion, I think that in 1914 the women of Britain hadn't had the chance to really prove themselves as they did in the First World War when they greatly helped the war effort. I believe that the suffragette movement had a great effect on bringing about changes in voting laws, and also raised the profile of the issue of women's votes to that of national consideration. However, I also believe that women's efforts during the war also revealed their capabilities, which were previously unknown. ...read more.

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