Why Women Got The Vote In 1914 (Examples Of Other Countries (Importance of…
Why Women Got The Vote In 1914
Attitudes in Early 1800s
Women seen as physically, emotionally and mentally different from men.
Men were the protectors of the family and bread winners.
Women were seen as wives and mothers expected to look after the charity, do charity work, and fulfill domestic roles.
Majority of society supported this view of women.
Queen Victoria - "Let women be what God intended, a helpmate for man, but with totally different duties and jobs. The home should be the concern of a wife.
People thought that women were to incompetent to think about politics so shouldn't be allowed to vote.
Men's Dominance Over Women
When a women married, all her possessions became the property of her husband.
Women had no legal rights over her own children.
Husbands could legally imprison their wives.
Husbands were allowed to beat their wives.
Changing Positions of Women
By late the 1800s women began venturing into politics - members of town councils, prominent members of political parties.
Local Government Act, 1894 - Allowed female rate payers and property owners to vote in local elections.
More women in office, teaching and nursing jobs.
Infant Custody Act - Gave mothers more rights over their children.
Married Women's Property Acts, 1882 and 1899 - Gave women full legal rights of all the property they owned.
Universal primary education for boys and girls was introduced and universities began accepting women which allowed women to get at least some form of education.
Some believe that over time they would eventually just be given the vote as they can't say that they are incompetent to vote when taking part in local elections. However, this approach would have taken a long time due to a lack of pressure making it not the most important factor.
Martin Pugh - "their participation in local government made women's exclusion from national elections increasingly untenable"
National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS)
Formed in 1897
Leader was Millicent Fawcett
Aim - Wanted the vote for middle class property owning women.
Members - Mainly middle class women, men were allowed.
Philosophy - Peaceful persuasion.
Methods - Marches, petitions, leaflets, lobbying MPs
Dignified protests won them respect and attracted supporters.
1907 they had 10,000 members but by 1913 they had 50,000.
In 1912 they was a rally in Hyde Park which attracted 50,000 people.
Work With Politicians
Helped pro-female suffrage MPs with their campaigns.
Some believe that the Conciliation Bills of 1910, 1911 and 1912 were due to the Suffragist movement.
John Kerr - "a persuasive campaign of meetings, pamphlets, petitions and parliamentary bills regularly introduced by friendly backbench MPs had created a situation where many, if not most MPs had accepted the principle of women's suffrage."
Importance Of Factor
Helped get some stuff achieved.
Reputation of women and themselves was ruined by the acts of the Suffragettes which could be argued made their work invalid.
Some argue that their methods were too peaceful to make the parliament give them the vote as they could easily be ignored.
Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU)
Formed in 1903
Leader was Emmeline Pankhurst
Aim - To have all women with the vote and weren't prepared to wait.
Members - Only women allowed.
Philosophy - 'Deeds not words' and militant protest (aggressive tactics)
Methods - Law breaking, violence, resisting arrests, hunger strikes, heckling ministers, spitting at police officers, breaking windows, setting fire to post boxes.
When arrested many Suffragettes refused to eat.
To stop them from dying the government decided to force feed them.
This made many people to become sympathetic to their cause.
The Derby 1913
4th of June 1913, Suffragette Emily Davison got knocked over by the King's horse whilst trying to pin a 'votes for women' badge on it.
She died later that day in hospital.
Her funeral attracted 50,000 people and her coffin was inscribed with "Fight on, God will give the victory."
Importance of Factor
Brought attention of the movement to the public and forced government to talk about it.
Their newspaper sold 20,000 copies a week.
Hunger strikes gained sympathy.
Tactics showed that they were serious.
Made women seem undeserving of the vote and irresponsible.
Alienated press support.
Government were less willing to give them the vote as they didn't want to award terrorism.
World War 1
500,000 men had volunteered to fight so their jobs had to be taken over by women.
Women were coal miners, farmers, mechanics, police officers, drivers and conductors of public transport, nurses on the Western Front, and workers in munitions factories.
By 1917 819,000 women worked in munition factories which were really dangerous and could result in death.
Suffragettes halted their militant campaign and changed the name of their newspaper to the 'Britannia'.
Success Of Factor
Their war effort made them seem patriotic, responsible, respectable and more worthy of the vote.
Many people believe that women got the vote as a thank you for their effort however this view might not make sense since not all women got the vote only a select few.
The war could have been a way to give women the vote in order to stop the Suffragette campaign without seeming like they were awarding terrorism, instead it would look like they were awarding their great effort in the war.
Herbert Asquith, 1918 - "How could we have won they war without them? I find it impossible to withhold from women the power and right of making their voices directly heard."
Examples Of Other Countries
Importance of Factor
These countries proved that giving women the vote wouldn't damage the country.
Britain liked being seen as the 'mother of democracy' so having other countries be more democratic than her didn't sit right with many people.
Paula Bartley - "It would have been a peculiar embarrassment if the mother of democracy, Britain, lagged behind other countries."
If this seriously effected Britain then they would have granted all women the vote rather than just a few in order to seem more democratic than places like New Zealand.
In many parts of the world franchise was wider that in Britain.
In 1893, the British colony of New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant women the vote.
New Zealand - 1893
Australia - 1901
Finland - 1906
Russia - 1907
Norway - 1913
Denmark - 1917