The Effect of World War I on British Women's Rights

Satisfactory Essays
The Effect of World War I on British Women's Rights

In the following essay I intend to give my opinion as to whether I

agree or disagree with the statement, “Without the First World War

British women would not have gained the vote in 1918”. I shall explain

my opinion using the provided sources and my own knowledge on this


I only agree with this interpretation to a certain extent. However,

World War One being the only reason for women getting the vote in 1918

is still a highly debateable and a very controversial issue. World War

one was merely one of a few contributory factors to women getting the


The campaign for women’s suffrage had been running long before the

beginning of the war. The first attempt for female suffrage was made

by the Suffragists, who for over 50 years used peaceful methods, such

as petitions, legal propaganda etc to gently persuade Parliament to

give women the same voting rights as men. Nevertheless, they failed to

achieve government backing and their campaign was so slow and

frustrating that many women began to get disheartened, amounting in

several supporters losing faith and turning over to more violent

methods for the answer. As a result, in 1903 a breakaway group joined

together to form the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union), who

were also known as the Suffragettes. The Suffragettes campaign was

another contributory factor to women gaining the vote, but their

approach was largely different to that of the Suffragists; they used

militant tactics instead and were prepared to break the law in order

to gain publicity for their cause. The Suffragettes believed that they

should be given the vote so that they are able to contribute their

ideas to important issues, as a society is not only that of men,

Emmeline Pankhurst; leader of the Suffragettes mentioned in one of her

speeches in 1908 (Source A) that it is vital for women to vote so tat

they are able to contribute their ideas in issues like social reform,
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