The Changing Roles and Status of Women
In 1903 the suffragette movement was born with the formation of the
Women's Social and Political Union (WPSU) by Emmeline Pankhurst and
her two daughters Christabel and Sylvia.
At first the newly formed suffragettes relied on spreading propaganda
to gain support. However, on the 18th October 1905 they gained
considerable unplanned publicity when Christabel Pankhurst and Annie
Kenney stood up at a public meeting and asked if a Liberal government
would introduce women's suffrage. Receiving no reply they stood on
their seats waving a banner which said, "votes for women". They were
thrown out of the meeting and arrested for causing an obstruction
outside. Instead of paying the fine they went to prison as protest,
causing a great stir and getting the story of the suffragettes into
The suffragettes gained maximum publicity for their cause by
interrupting and heckling politicians, putting up posters, and
chaining themselves to railings (such as those outside Buckingham
Palace). This left no one in any doubt as to their determination to
get the vote.
By 1909, the suffragette's protests had become much more violent. In
October 1912, Emmeline Pankhurst told the suffragettes, "There is
something that governments care far more for than for human life, and
that is the security of property and so it is through property that we
shall strike the enemy." Windows were smashed, telephone lines were
cut and buildings were set on fire.
The suffragette movement definitely contributed to women being given
the vote. This is because their tireless protesting raised the profile
of the issue of women's suffrage and showed everyone their
determination to get the vote.
Q2 Using all three reasons, explain how both long and short term
causes contributed to women being given the vote.
The outbreak of war resulted in a truce between the suffragettes and
the government. Emmeline Pankhurst rallied the suffragettes behind the
war effort on the 10th of August 1914 with the question, "What is the
use of fighting for a vote if we have not got a country to vote in?"
In return all suffragette prisoners were pardoned and the WPSU devoted
it's formidable energies to fighting the war.
It was absolutely essential that women should take over many of the
jobs, which had been done the men recruited into the armed forces.
There were female sailors, ambulance drivers and female police
officers. However, women are probably most renowned for their work in
munitions factories making bombs and cartridge cases.
Women continued to work after the war, in the jobs the war had created
for them. This showed everyone what women were...