Women's Vote and Their Work During World War I

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"Leeds Express: 4 March 1868

I wonder, Mr Editor,

Why I can't have the vote;

And I will not be contented

Till I've found the reason out

I am a working woman,

My voting half is dead,

I hold a house, and want to know

Why I can't vote instead

I pay my rates in person,

Under protest tho, it's true;

But I pay them, and I'm qualified

To vote as well as you."

Sarah Ann Jackson

The purpose of this investigation is to analyse the issues surrounding

the eventual enfranchisement of women in 1918, to draw conclusions

about the effectiveness of the militant Suffragette campaign in the

early years of the twentieth century and to decide whether the

outbreak of war was instrumental in achieving enfranchisement, or

merely a fortunate coincidence.

The poem written by Sarah Ann Jackson underlines the fact that many

middle class women had, throughout the reign of Queen Victoria, taken

issue with men's dominance over their lives and had worked hard

throughout these years to draw attention to women's right to equality.

For these women, enfranchisement was not their sole aim. Queen

Victoria was a fierce opponent of women's rights.

"The Queen is most anxious to enlist everyone who can speak or write

to join in checking this mad wicked folly of women's rights, with all

its attendant horrors on which her poor sex is bent."

Queen Victoria 1870

Traditionally women's roles were within the home as "moral educators"

and little or no formal education was offered to them, leaving them

domestic prisoners[1]. Two factors in achieving their emancipation had

to be addressed. Women needed an equal entitlement to the educational

opportunities offered to men and they needed to gain the right to

vote. Without access to equal opportunities they could not compete

with men in the work place and therefore could not achieve financial

independence.[2] In order to change these policies women needed the
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