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Women over 30 gained the vote in 1918 mainly because of women's contribution to the war effort

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Introduction

Women over 30 gained the vote in 1918 mainly because of women's contribution to the war effort. Do you agree? Explain your answer. In 1914, WW1 broke out, men quickly signed up to fight in the war, yet the government needed workers to keep the country going. Women were then invited to take over men's jobs. In 1918, WW1 ended, men came back from fighting and returned to their old jobs, yet they could not vote because they had not been in England for 12 months. This may be one of the factors, amongst others, as to why women got the vote in 1918. This essay will discuss all the factors as to why women got the vote in 1918. Up until 1914 women's role in the workplace had predominantly consisted of domestic work. Many wealthy women had never worked, as society considered it their role to be in the home. As a result of war breaking out men were needed to fight and this left a huge gap in the workforce at home. These jobs still needed to be done so that the country could not only function, but actively support the war effort also. ...read more.

Middle

In 1919 the 'Sex Disqualification Removal Act' was passed which opened up new professions to women. Pre - 1914, the Suffragist/suffragette movement had begun to draw attention their cause. Whilst the suffragists employed non violent action to achieve this, the Suffragettes were far more militant and had resorted to extreme means to apply pressure to the government. Some people feel that the methods they used rather than gain ground in their attempts to get the vote actually slowed their campaign. This was because the government did not want to be seen as giving in to such tactics and saw these women as too irrational to be trusted with the vote. The Suffragettes decision to suspend their campaign following the onset of war may have softened the governments view as this showed the women to have 'sound judgement' and patriotism. However, their actions before the war could support the argument that it was not their efforts during the war which got them the vote, but the publicity gained due to their militant action. After the war ended, the Government sent women back to the roles they had held before, since the soldiers were returning from fighting. ...read more.

Conclusion

This gave women a new sense of equality which they wanted to keep. When the men came back from the war, women were not willing to give up their positions in their new jobs to return to their old lifestyle. The war was a turning point, as the need to revise the voting system had to be looked at to overcome the 12 month rule, with this in mind, women over 30 were given the vote. The war may have sped up what would have been a natural progression to women achieving this anyway. I have a combined opinion; I believe that women's gaining the vote was in part due to the fact of their war effort. I also believe that the early work of the Suffragists and Suffragettes played a role, as well as the effect of natural progression. Although I feel that the militant methods used by the Suffragettes were extreme, it did focus the Governments and publics attention on their cause. With this in mind it is possible that the Government having fear of the reoccurrence of the militant Suffragette campaign at the end of the war, added weight to their decision to give women over 30 the vote. Stephanie Dunne Stephanie Dunne ...read more.

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