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"Women over 30 gained the right to vote in 1918 mainly because of women's contribution to the war" Do you agree?

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Introduction

"Women over 30 gained the right to vote in 1918 mainly because Of women's contribution to the war." Do you agree? The First World War had a profound effect on suffrage politics. Just as Britain was going to war against Germany in August 1914, the Suffragettes (WSPU) declared peace with the Liberals. Nevertheless, it has been argued that the greatest effect of the war on women's suffrage was that women were given the vote towards the end of it. In the past, historians have generally agreed that women were awarded the vote as a token of gratitude for their war work. As Lewis points out, "The highly skilled and dangerous work done by women during the war in the armament and munitions factories.....was probably the greatest factor in the granting of the vote to women at the end of the war." Despite this assertion, recent historians have claimed the direct correlation between women's war work and women's suffrage to be a weak argument. They argue that the emphasis placed on women's economic contribution to the war discounts the groundwork put in by the pre-war suffrage campaign and some even believe that far from the war facilitating votes for women, it actually postponed its implementation as the campaigns were postponed. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore a realisation of equality through the war effort cannot be the main contributing factor to women gaining the right to vote, however it may have been a tentative step towards it as real equality with men was almost established at this time. Some historians believe that women were enfranchised because of the threat of renewed Suffragette aggression once the war had finished. The Government had some other big issues on their hands like what to do with Germany after the war and also the Irish question was beginning to occupy the politician's attention more. They could no longer put up with these issues as well as the militancy of the Suffragettes so they could end one problem with giving women the vote. They were scared that these campaigns would become more and more militant if they did not give Suffragettes the right to vote and this would just create ever-increasing problems. If the fear of renewed militancy from the Suffragettes was a factor in women achieving the right to vote then it is certain that the Government would not let anyone know that this is the case. If they did this then it would make them seem weak to violence and civil disobedience so other protestors would adapt similar techniques. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Government had to change the criterion for voting it gave the perfect chance for the Government to include women's suffrage in the Reform Bill. I believe that the fact that the Government had to pass a Reform Bill on the criteria for franchise is the main contributing factor to women achieving the vote in 1918. The earlier suffrage campaigns had made women's suffrage a major political issue and this meant that when the new Reform Bill was passed women's suffrage was taken into consideration. The Government knew that it was an issue that needed resolving and they did not want a renewal of the Suffragette militancy (therefore this factor did have a slight impact) so they decided to attach it to the Bill in order to negate the problem. By attaching it to another Bill there was also little risk of opposition as the Bill included the voting rights of millions of soldiers returning from France. The reason that only women over 30 got the vote as a result of many sexist views opposing women's franchise because they saw women as irresponsible and a liability. Women over 30 were usually married so they could ask their husband for advice on whom to vote for, women were now also generally seen as more responsible though because of their attitude and effort throughout the war. By David Alison ...read more.

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