Reasons for Women's Suffrage Campaign

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In the years after 1870 there were many reasons for the development of the women’s suffrage movement. The main reasons were changes in the law. Some affecting directly affecting women, and some not, but they all added to the momentum of Women’s campaign for the vote. Before 1870 there were few bills passed to achieve much for the movement. One bill that was passed, which did not directly affect women in too many ways was one of the starting points of the campaign for the vote. This was the 1867 Reform Act. In 1832, the Great Reform Act was passed, this allowed most middle class men to vote, but not working class men. But, the 1867 Reform Act changed this. This Act lead to all men who had lived at the same address for 12 months to be able vote. This meant that many more working class men were able to vote in the General elections. After this Act, many women felt that if the majority of men, regardless of class, were able to vote, why should women not be able to vote as well. Later, in 1870 the first part of the Married Women’s Property Act was passed. Until this act was passed, when a woman married, any property she owned was legally transferred to her husband. Divorce laws heavily favored men, and a divorced wife could expect to lose any property she possessed before she married. The implications of these two Acts combined, was enough to start women questioning the reasons for them not being able to vote, it started the campaign of votes for women. In the second part of the Reform Act, in 1884, many more men were able to vote. This simply fueled the campaign even more. As even more men could vote, still no women could. Despite all this, women could still vote in some things. The 1869 and 1882 Municipal Council Acts allowed women to vote in council elections. Women could also vote in elections for School Boards from 1870, for Boards of Health from 1875 and in elections to the London County Council from 1889. The Local Government Acts of 1894 and 1899, which set up district and borough councils, also included women as voters. So, women were already allowed to vote in: council elections, school board elections, health board elections, county council elections and others. Why were they not able to votes in such things as General elections?

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