The Reason Women Given the Vote in 1918
Women were not treated as equals with men before the second half of
the eighteenth century. They had to marry, obey their husbands and
have children, only receiving little education. In the eyes of the law
they had little power and men were their superiors. For example, once
they were married, everything they owned belonged to their husband,
this meant that if they separated the women would be left with
nothing, not even her children, as they too, belonged solely to the
Around 1850, the rights of women started to change, as laws were made
to improve women's education and rights in marriage. However women
were still not allowed to vote in the general elections. Many women
considered this as a huge prejudice, and that they would have to carry
on being second-class citizens until they received the right to vote
because a lot of women thought that having a say in general elections
would give them more opportunities and rights.
Before 1918, only men had the vote, even though they had to qualify by
meeting the property qualification (which was someone who earned 40
shillings a year and was a freeholder). Therefore, not all men did
qualify, but many women did qualify, and as a result could vote in
Women did have very strong arguments to give them the vote. Here are a
few of those arguments:
As I mentioned above, people had to meet the property qualification in
order to vote. Many women did own property of the right value, and so
were entitled to the vote. The Married Women's Property Act made even
more women qualify, as they could keep their earnings.
Women had to endure the same laws as men and also had to pay taxes,
like men. So, the women only saw it fair to be able to vote, which
gave women a say in what the laws and taxes were.
One of the arguments used against women's suffrage was that they were
considered physically and mentally too weak. Women's argument towards
that was that women had become successful monarchs of this country,
for example, Queen Elizabeth I and the present Queen of the time,
Queen Victoria. If women were suitable enough to rule the country, why
were they not seen fit enough to have the vote?
With only men voting, women's rights and social equality would not
have been seen to properly, therefore women should have the vote to
represent the other half of the nation. "No race or class or sex can
have its interests represented in Parliament unless it has the vote."
(Why Women Want the Vote, taken from a leaflet, 1907).
Women were put in the same category as lunatics and convicts (apart
from those who did not meet the property qualification) by not being
given the vote. It was degrading that women were put on that same
In 1884, illiterate agricultural labourers...