The Reasons Behind The Development Of Women's Suffrage Campaign

3266 words - 13 pages

The Reasons Behind the Development of Women's Suffrage Campaign

Ans.1: From 1837 to 1901 Britain, reached its highest power, and was
ruled over by a female monarch. Queen Victory ruled over a society in
which women were denied the same political rights as men, in
employment they experienced exploitation, whilst the doors to
professional careers remained closed to them. Society expected women
to be wives and mothers and assumed that women were economically and
socially dependant on men. The vote was seen as a device which could
be utilized to force the government to take women's issues seriously.
Thus began the suffrage movement in the years after 1870.

Education was seen by feminists as the key to unlock the closed doors
of the masculine world of politics. The pauper children went to
workhouse schools, and the young factory workers attended factory
schools. The girls of a higher class went to state schools, which
taught them the basic reading, writing and mathematical skills. The
system emphasized subjects like cookery, needlework, housewifery at
the expense of other subjects. All women, whatever the intelligence or
capability were denied access to both universities and medical
schools. As a result of their poor education, women had limited career
options. Working class women were employed in a variety of unskilled
and low paid jobs, in factories and workhouses. In 1870 as a result of
the Education Act, women were eligible to serve on the newly created
School Boards which had responsibility for the education of children
in state schools.

The feminists realized that unless great changes were made to the
education received, women will continue to be the 'bottom dog as a
wage earner.' This prompted a number of feminists to campaign for
women's access to both universities and to promote the training of
teachers. By the end of the nineteenth century both London and
Manchester Universities accepted women. A school for Nursing was
established at St Thomas's Hospital, by Florence Nightingale, which
attracted middle class women. Women also gained the right to become
doctors, architects, factory and workhouse inspectors and to enter the
civil service. Nursing became a popular career for women, who were
inspired by nurses like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson who became the
first woman doctor to practice in England. In 1876 an Act of
Parliament allowed medical schools to admit women students. All these
accomplishments in the educational fields proved that if women were
intelligent enough to become doctors and factory inspectors, they
deserved the vote. Their achievements, in increasing their wages and
career options encouraged their campaign for suffrage as they knew
politics and economics go hand in hand, and as long as woman had no
political status, increase in her income was impossible.


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