The Suffragettes

As the franchise increased,  more men obtained the right to vote.  Women, however, did not have the right to vote.  The suffragists campaigned to extend the vote to women but they were also interested in education, employment and rights for women.  They tended to do this through peaceful means.

Millicent Fawcett was one of the key suffragists.

However some women believed that things were not going fast enough.  In 1903 the Pankhursts set up the Women’s Social and Political Union.  They became identified with more militant tactics.  The press dubbed them the suffragettes.

Not everybody agreed with the methods of the suffragettes.  Many were put off by their militant activities.  Others were inspired by them.

When suffragettes were sent to prison they often went on hunger strike.  The Liberal Government responded by introducing the ‘Cat and Mouse Act’.

The most dramatic incident of all took place in 1913, when Emily Davison jumped in front of a horse.

In 1914 war broke out.  The suffragettes suspended their campaign and told their members to support the war effort.

During the war women entered the workforce in large numbers and took over many of the jobs traditionally done by men.

In 1916 the government, under Lloyd George, decided to change the Voting laws as many men had lost their right to vote during their time in the trenches.  Millicent Fawcett persuaded Lloyd George that he should include women.  In 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed, giving the vote to all men over 21 and Married women and women householders over the age of 30.

 

 

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