The Development of a Campaign for Women's Suffrage in 1870
In the first half of the 19th century, women were limited in what they
could do. Many women wanted to do more, but couldn't as they lacked
education. Women stayed at home, looking after the family. They didn't
have an education or need qualifications, as they didn't get good
jobs, if they worked at all. The changes that took place for women
mainly came about from industrialisation. Women were described as the
'Angel in the house', as they did all the housework. However, from the
1830's parliament started to make laws to help women.
Some women wanted the vote more than anything and some weren't too
bothered. Women wanted the vote as they saw that politics and
economics go together. This meant that if they had the vote, they
would also earn more. They believed that they didn't have as many
opportunities to progress, but the vote would help. Josephine Butler
argued for improved opportunities. They also said they would be better
housewives with the vote. Although, many people said women shouldn't
have the vote. This included women saying they're happy as long as
they are treated well and have a good allowance, although this was
only richer women, and some women were being legally beaten and raped
by their husbands. Many men believed that god favoured man, that women
were irrational and not good at decision making. Also, men were
worried that it would mean women would devote less time to her family.
This inspired many women into arguing back their cases, although they
realised change in the church would be slow.
Many women didn't want to be seen as housewives, and wanted a say in
decision making. The Conservative Party's Primrose League allowed
women to become members and by 1893 the number of females in its ranks
was estimated to be about 500,000. It allowed women to have a role in
politics. Women were allowed in local elections, which showed women
were moving forward. Women believed that if they had a better
education, they could do more things. All girls, up to the age of 10,
legally required schooling, because of the education Act of 1870. This
was an advance for women, meaning there would be high literacy rates.
Most women saw the vote as the answer to their problem. They thought
it would be a good starting point for equality....