Women's Suffrage In Britain Essay

1575 words - 7 pages

Women’s Suffrage in Britain
Social change in Britain has been achieved primarily through the hard work of organized political groups. These groups created events to recruit and educate supporters of social equality to join them in fighting for progress. The Women’s Suffrage Movement between 1866 and 1928 in Britain is no exception to this trend. The reason for the great efficacy of these political groups, including the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies and the Women’s Social and Political Union, was the women who pioneered the groups and fought alongside them to create the change that they believed in. The goal of these political groups was finally realized in 1928 with the ...view middle of the document...

(Pugh 134-135) Without Fawcett’s action the group would never have existed, and therefore could not have made these important contributions. Another example is Emmeline Pankhurst in the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). To draw attention to the cause, Emmeline Pankhurst led the WSPU in breaking the windows of politicians’ country houses, vandalizing paintings and golf courses, as well as blowing up mailboxes. (Bronstein 150-151) Pankhurst greatly impacted the opinions of the WSPU members; without her influence, the group could not have gathered to organize the aforementioned feats. The groups’ achievements were important for women’s suffrage to spread and gain momentum. Additionally, the actions could not have been possible without strong direction.
Millicent Fawcett was one of the most influential women in the fight for women’s right to vote in Britain. By 1897, she organized then later led the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), which aimed to demonstrate women’s ability to use political power responsibly. (Spielvogel 846-847) Fawcett guided the women of the NUWSS into concerted action. It was a commonly held belief in British society at this time that women were physically, emotionally, or otherwise incapable of political activity simply by nature of being a woman. By directing women into political activism, Fawcett made great progress toward the acceptance of a woman’s voice in political life. The NUWSS later adopted Fawcett’s views by remaining party-neutral while working towards voting rights for women. Under Fawcett’s direction, the NUWSS turned down opportunities to connect with the Liberal Party and later with the Labour Party, thereby focusing the group’s efforts solely on women’s suffrage. (Smith 13-14) Forming a connection with a political party would have distracted some of the focus of the Suffragists to other political concerns including war protests or workplace equality, thereby hindering the movement’s progress. Without Fawcett’s focus and persistence, the movement would have been much less effective or could have failed entirely. Millicent Fawcett’s actions with the NUWSS and beyond were essential for the Women’s Suffrage Movement’s success.
Lydia Becker contributed a great deal to the cause of British women’s suffrage. She was involved with many aspects of the women’s right movement, which set the stage for her to become a leader in women’s suffrage. Becker was parliamentary secretary of National Society for Women’s Suffrage (NSWS) and then later NSWS campaign director, secretary of the suffrage campaign, and secretary of the Manchester Society. In the 1860s, she was involved with the campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts. (Smith 6) These acts were put into place in an attempt to slow the spread of sexual disease from prostitution. Despite that reasonable intention, the law was enforced unjustly and the execution was warped in a way that was demeaning to women. Becker was also a member of...

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