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"Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918". Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation?

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Introduction

"Without the First World War British women would not have gained the right to vote in 1918". Do you agree or disagree with this interpretation? To a certain extent, I do agree with this interpretation. However, as to WW1 being the sole reason for women getting the vote in 1918, is still a highly debateable question and a very controversial issue. A simplistic answer to the question, "What gave British women the vote in 1918?" would be to say the First World War, but World War 1 was merely one of a few contributory factors to women getting the vote. Although I feel it was a major influence as it was the final piece of the campaign and tied all the campaign together, In 1918, women were finally given the right to vote. This was die to the new 'Representation of the People Act' passed at this time. However, it did not apply to all women, only those over 30 were given the right to vote. This was different to the legal age of 21 men were allowed to vote. In the same year, the bill to allow women over 21 to stand for parliament became law but it was only passed just before the election. This meant female candidates had little preparation time and was probably the reason why there were so few women standing for parliament. The campaign for votes for women had been running long before the war and began in 1866 where petitions were put up and in the next year a group was set up called the Manchester Society for Women's Suffrage. More of these groups were set up all over the country and took part in peaceful protests in the form of lecturing and more petitions. The organisation expanded in 1897 when all the societies joined to form the NUWSS. These people were called the suffragists, and only took part in peaceful methods of protest. ...read more.

Middle

The processions were happening frequently and it was all peaceful. Still Asquith did nothing and the Suffragettes began to get impatient and began to turn violent, they smashed windows and chained themselves to railings. The suffragists were not happy by this and they thought that the violence compromised their position and they have made the chance of women getting the vote less. Now that the Suffragettes have split away from the suffragists, they can now govern themselves and if the party wanted to do something they could go right ahead and do it. The Suffragettes grew popularity and attracted new members due to the propaganda that they put out. An example of this is Source E; the source, which I have already explained, was intended to change opinions. Propaganda was a peaceful type of protest and was a very clever way of getting your message across. The Suffragettes had there on newspaper called appropriately 'votes for women' in this they could get there views and opinions out to people without doing anything but writing and printing. The Suffragettes had recognisable colours of purple, white and green to sell clothes, dolls, jewellery, belts and other things people would buy. Other than things, which you could buy, there were items such as postcards (source E), posters and leaflets. As I am discussing the ways, in which the suffragettes made a stand, the work they done to secure the vote before the war included peaceful methods such as propaganda, which I mentioned above they also, refuse to pay tax's as you were only allowed to vote if you paid tax's. As they felt discriminated against the women refused to pay the tax's, which secured even more prison sentences. There main form of peaceful protest was there meetings and demonstrations, which were a common occurrence and seemed to grow in the number of people by the year due to the increased popularity. ...read more.

Conclusion

The problem I have with the source is it is titled the war worker and most of the workers were mostly women so it could have been used as a bargaining tool for the vote as I know that some women still carried on with marches and petitions throughout the war. The men did not really like the women working as it meant they were more likely to be conscripted in the war. This is proved by Source I One of the main factors of women getting the vote was that men who had been out of the country for more than a year had lost there right to vote. This meant there needed to be a change in the policy as this applied to most of the male population. The women saw this and they introduced the women's rights issue. Lloyd George, the new prime minister was more sympathetic to the idea. The other main factor is that without the women, the country would have fell into enemy hands and many men felt they owed this to the women. The government were also worried that if the campaign for the votes started again and the violence happened, how could they lock up war heroes. The feelings of Asquith are summed up in Source J as he says 'how could we have carried on the war without women?'. That came form a person who had imprisoned and force-fed the women; the extent of the women's work must have been huge. In conclusion, I feel that without the war, the women would not have got the vote and at the same time if none of the pre war antics had happened they would not have had the base and the knowledge people had about them. They had also found out what they needed to do and why they were not getting the vote, when they disproved all these arguments, e.g. Women were no good in a war situation. I feel that the work pre war put the foundation in place. ?? ?? ?? ?? Daniel Gardner ...read more.

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