Skip to content

Edexcel Votes For Women Coursework

1. Why did a campaign for women’s suffrage develop in the years after 1870?There are a number of reasons as to why a campaign for women’s suffrage developed after the year 1870Firstly in the years before 1870, there were a number of radical changes which allowed more freedom for women. Firstly in 1869, single women were allowed to vote in town councils, and in 1870 the Married Women’s Property Act allowed women to keep their property when they got married.

These new changes allowed many women a taste of freedom and it also gave women a new sense of self worth. This left many women thinking if the government allowed women to vote in town councils and allowed women to keep their property why did they not allow them to vote? This spurred on more support for the Suffragists and for women’s suffrage.

Also during this time many professions often regarded as exclusively for men, were open for women to take up.

An example of this is in 1877 when Sophia Jex Blake became the first woman doctor. The education act in 1870 also brought many more female teachers to schools. Working class women also had a share, jobs such as shop assistants and factory workers were available for them.

These women became pioneers and heroes in the eyes of many women. Many women saw these people as heroes, and many wanted to follow their example. This caused a revolutionary stir amongst women and many turned their attention on the law that prohibited women to vote. This heaped more pressure on the government.

The reform acts also attracted many more campaigners for women’s suffrage. These acts aimed in giving more men the right to vote, however it was a double edged sword as this caused more discontent amongst women.

1. Study Source A. What can you learn from Source A about the reasons given by the Suffragettes for demanding votes for women?From source A we learn a few things on why the Suffragettes demanded votes for women. Source A is a poster which shows a contrast, it features in the top row responsible women; with the words “What a woman may be but yet not have the vote”. On the bottom row it features it shows irresponsible men with the words “What a man may have been and yet not lose the vote.” From this we can see that women during 1912 were making rapid progress in many professions, for example women were doctors and mayors and yet could not vote due to their gender., whereas men who were drunkards and convicts could still vote because they were men.

Many women felt unfairly treated due to this, especially the women within the Suffragette movement, and so this unfair feeling is one of the reasons that a large campaign was put about in getting votes for women by the Suffragettes as seen through the source.

Also from Source A I can infer that Suffragettes were also frustrated by the pace of getting votes for women through peaceful means, which was being done by the Suffragists. Putting up “shocking” posters like these, they thought could help generate more publicity and speed the pace of progress towards suffrage for women.

2. Study Sources B and C. Does Source B support the evidence of source C about the Suffragette campaign? Explain your answer.

Source B supports Source C to an extent; however there are a few differences which can be seen. Source B is an extract from a book by Marie Corelli and Source C is a cartoon by Bernard Partridge.

Sources B and C are similar since they both portray the Suffragettes as mad women, and that Suffragettes are not the cause of women in society. Since in Source C the caption reads “THE SHRIEKING SISTER” underneath a picture of a wild looking Suffragette. And in Source B it says ““Votes for women” is the shrill cry of a number of discontented ladies”. The Shrill cry described by Marie Corelli and the word shrieking used in the caption also both help us paint the same negative image.

There is however aspects where source B and source C disagree with each other. Firstly Source B sympathizes with another pro woman’s suffrage group called the Suffragists, by presenting the Suffragist as the sensible woman. Whereas source C states that neither Suffragists nor Suffragettes are right in demanding votes for women, and that “Women were and are destined to make voters rather than to be voters themselves”. Marie Corelli still feels that even though women “suffer great injustice at the hands of men” should still incline to their natural roles of rearing children. On the contrary Bernard Partridge feels that women’s suffrage should come about, however believes that the Suffragette campaign is not the way.

Another disagreement between the sources is why and who their target audience was. Source B is a book, by a fairly educated woman who puts forward her view of the situation, however does not hope to convert anybody into her way of thinking. So it can be assumed that her feelings against either campaign were fairly mild. However the cartoon in source C is written and drawn by a man, who clearly is hoping to rouse public attention against the Suffragette campaign. We can assume from this source that he has strong feelings against the Suffragettes, as he is hoping to rally more support against their campaign.

3. Study Sources D and E and use your own knowledge. Why despite the Suffragette activity, had women not gained the vote by the outbreak of the First World War?Using only sources D and E we are presented with a few reasons as to why women have not gained the vote by the outbreak of the First World War, despite the Suf43fragette activity.

Using source D, which is part of a book written by Emmeline Pankhurst a leading Suffragette. She says that despite the violent campaigning which had been done by the Suffragettes, and the amount of publicity the campaigning has created for their cause it has not come about due to the government. And ultimately it was what the government thinks is good for the public and not what the public thinks is good for them, the government was and still is a very powerful foe.

Using Source E, which is part of a speech by a member of parliament in 1913. We learn that women were also not handed the right to vote due to at least one person believing that they could not vote plainly because they were women, and that it was not their place to vote. These entrenched views among the opposition, helped delay women’s suffrage despite the Suffragette campaigning eg asquith.

From my own knowledge I can bring out a few more reasons.

Firstly there was a large lack government support for a variety of reasons. At the time there were other pressing matters to be dealt with by the government, such as World War 2, workers strikes and the situation in Ireland with homerule. The government simply did not have the time to deal with votes for women.

The Violent methods of the Suffragettes also may have gone against them. Despite the publicity, the overall effectiveness of their methods is questionable. The government just saw giving in to Suffragettes as giving in to violence which in their minds would be ridiculous. Also the government thought that if the Suffragettes had their way, it could influence strikes and other violent rallies across the country.

There women’s movement was also largely disorganized with groups such as the Suffragettes and Suffragists not communicating, whereas the anti Suffragette and womens suffrage groups were the complete opposite.

The liberal government which was ruling the country at the time also was in fact scared to pass the bill allowing women to vote because many members thought their generosity would not be rewarded by the women. They feared that in the next election, many of the new women voters might instead of voting for them again will be inclined to vote conservative. And they also could not agree with the finer details.

4. Study sources F and G. How useful are these two sources as evidence for the contribution of women to the war effort in the years 1914-1918?Both Sources F and G are useful as evidence for the contribution of women to the war effort, though both in different ways.

Source F is a government poster intended to encourage women to becoming munitions workers. It shows a woman effectively on the battlefield with the caption “On her, there lives depend…Enrol at once” Source F is useful in a number of ways as firstly it shows us that the government clearly valued the importance of women at the time, and that they allowed them to help in the war effort. This could tell us that women were vital to the war effort and that their contribution to it was greatly appreciated. There are however some limitations to this source. Firstly this poster was also clearly used as propaganda it could have been distorted giving us a false image of what the situation was really like. Also this poster alone does not show us an accurate depiction of the working conditions which women were in during the war, or the effectiveness of the work done by the women.

Source G is an extract from a British school textbook published in the 1980’s. The source itself is a set of statistics showing the growth of women in four different industries between the years 1914 and 1918. It is useful as evidence of increasing employment of women between the years 1914 and 1918 within Metal, Chemical industries, government offices and food, drink and tobacco industries. From these statistics we can see that in the first 3 industries there is a large increase in the number of women employed, whereas in the food, drink and tobacco industries there is little increase. These first 3 industries are also mainly war related from this we can say that women did contribute greatly to the war effort, in terms of number. However there are some limitations to this source as well. Firstly it does not show the rate of increase in terms of the number of women employed during the 4 years of the war. Secondly there are no details on the actual jobs the women did, and lastly as with Source F there is no indication of the effectiveness or the quality of the work done by the women. Also since it was published in the 1980’s the source could be deemed as unreliable.

5. Study sources H, I and J and use your own knowledge. “It was the work that women did during the war that earned them the vote.” Use the sources, and your own knowledge, to explain whether you agree with this interpretation.

I do agree with the above statement to a certain extent, however in my opinion there were many other issues which helped bring about votes for women in 1918.

From source H, which is an extract from a history textbook called “Women’s Suffrage in Britain, 1867-1828” we learn a few things as to why women got the vote and not just due to the war effort. Firstly we learn that attitudes really did not change much at all after the war towards women, so there must have been other reasons as to why they were given the vote. The source states that the few MP’s which supported votes for women reached an age limit of 30 for women to vote. This allowed the bill to become more acceptable in the eyes of other MP’s, as many 30 year old women in the eyes of many MP’s were mature enough and were more likely to vote in a similar fashion as their husbands. Thus the age limit helped women get the vote.

From source I we get our first piece of evidence that says there is some truth within the statement. Source I is an extract from a history textbook called “women at war 1914-1918”. The extract states that “To say that the war brought votes for women is to make a very rough generalization, yet one which contains some truth”. This shows that women did win the vote due to the war, however not just because of their participation in the war effort. As he says that the phrase “The war brought votes for women”, is a very rough generalization. The second part of source I also states that women got the vote due to the general mood of change after the war, which in a way contradicts source H. This is seen in the quote “During the four years of conflict a tremendous mood favourable to change had been created”.

Lastly source J is a part of a speech made by Herbert Asquith (Prime minister 1908-1916). Firstly source J is actual proof of that mood of change described in Source H. As Herbert Asquith before the war was opposed to the notion of giving women the right to vote. However in 1917 his attitudes had changed and he no longer opposed the notion but believed in it. Secondly within this source, we are given another reason as to why the bill was passed allowing women the right to vote. The reason being that women or mainly the Suffragettes had stopped their activity and contributed to the war effort. Allowing the government to easily give them the right to vote without looking as though they were giving in to violence. But instead as a reward for their actions or lack thereof in terms of violent campaigning.

From my own knowledge I can list other reasons as to why women did get the vote in 1918 and not just due to the work women did during the war.

One being that women got the vote due to the Representation of people’s act, as it allowed the bill to be included within other bills. Thus minimizing the amount of publicity it would have generated had it been presented by itself.

Many MP’s immediately after the war also saw this little window of opportunity arrive. They could give women the right to vote as being a reward for their services to the war effort and the Suffragettes cease in militant campaigning. And at the same time quickly pass the vote before campaigning started again.

We also have to take into account and give credit towards the actions taken by various groups in the past opting for women’s suffrage, such as the NUWSS and the Suffragists. They raised attention towards the matter, and ultimately without their actions the government would not have been spurned to pass the bill in the first place.

Lastly the notions of inferiority of women were dispelled due to their effort in the war, and respect was gained for them. At the same time allowing many women’s confidence levels to rise. Thus as a result many more women were pressing for the bill along with more men.

In conclusion I think that this is a valid view as many women got the vote as a result of the work which they did during the war. However there were many other reasons present as well. So in a way I do agree with the view to an extent at least, even though many other reasons are also present as to why they got the vote.