A GUID Cause, The Women's Suffrage Movement in Scotland - Their struggles for change withing society
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Using the Sources section to support your extended essay
Over 50 archive sources on this site will help those of you who are thinking of producing an Extended Essay on the theme of the women's suffrage movement in Scotland.
You'll know already that once you've chosen your issue and your title, you need to use a variety of historical sources to support your arguments. You can use the sources on this site to illustrate and strengthen different points that you want to make in your essay.
Remember to think about the origin and purpose of each source, i.e. who wrote or published it, and why? Is the writer known to be pro- or anti-women's suffrage? Is the writer or photographer aiming to influence public opinion about the women's suffrage campaign?
The archive material in the sources section has been organised into the following topic areas:
- Sources 1-4: Why did women want the vote?
- Sources 5-17: What methods did the suffragettes and suffragists use?
- Sources 18-27 : Arguments for and against women's suffrage
- Sources 28-37 : Reactions from the authorities, press and public
- Sources 38-47: The effect of the First World War
- Sources 48-49 : The impact of the right to vote
- Sources 50-58: The St Andrew's Hall incident, March 1914
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Get help with nationals, higher and advanced higher history, why did women get the vote.
This page analyses the reasons that women finally gained the vote, as well as examining why they did not have the vote in the first place.
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* Women and the vote – background
* Changing social attitudes
* Pressure groups – The Suffragists
* Pressure groups – The Suffragettes
* World War One
* Influence of other countries
* Male political progress
* Political advantage
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Higher History Women
The model answer suggests that changes in attitudes towards women in British society played a crucial role in granting specific women the right to vote in 1918. Previously, women were subject to disrespect and undervaluation by society. However, during the 1900s, an increasing number of women started asserting themselves and striving to overcome their inferior status compared to men. This change became apparent with the emergence of the “New Women” concept, which resulted in higher female involvement in different occupations, improved educational opportunities, and increased political participation.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the notion of the “New Women” cannot be solely credited for women obtaining the right to vote. Women took matters into their own hands by establishing movements like Suffragists and Suffragettes to advocate for suffrage. These groups were tired of being neglected and deemed unworthy of voting rights. Furthermore, the rise of the “Reward Theory” during World War 1 also played a significant role. This theory acknowledged women’s active involvement in Britain’s war endeavors, assuming hazardous jobs that were traditionally held by men.
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The changing views on women and the breakdown of the “separate spheres” in the 1900s had a significant impact on women’s suffrage. However, it was not the sole factor contributing to their achievement. Previously, women were restricted from earning their own wages and working. Yet, with the emergence of new job opportunities, particularly in “white collar” positions such as clerical or computing assistants in offices, women were able to improve themselves and pursue ambitions. Consequently, these jobs provided women with a sense of responsibility and opened up numerous opportunities.
The desire for women to improve their opportunities in society led to many of them seeking the extension of the franchise. Additionally, the introduction of compulsory education at the primary level ensured that both men and women had a foundational level of understanding. By 1914, 349 secondary or grammar schools had been opened specifically for women. Women-only colleges, such as Girton College established in 1869, further contributed to the education of women. As a result, they were no longer perceived as being too unintelligent to participate in voting.
Moreover, women’s involvement in Politics also contributed to the shifting attitudes towards them. The inclusion of women in local authority elections was a significant development. In 1869, women were granted the right to vote in Local council elections. Additionally, women were permitted to join the schools boards in 1870, and later in 1894, they were able to run as candidates in the Local elections. These advancements highlighted the potential for success that women could achieve if given opportunities. However, women remained frustrated that they were not trusted with participating in National elections.
Despite changes in attitudes towards women in British society impacting their voting rights, it wasn’t the sole reason for women receiving the right to vote by 1918. Women initiated suffrage movements and actively campaigned for their rights. The first movement, led by Millicent Fawcett, was known as the Suffragists. These campaigners aimed to demonstrate their worthiness for the vote through peaceful tactics, including regular meetings, distributing pamphlets, and lobbying supportive Members of Parliament to introduce bills on their behalf.
By 1919, the Suffragists had gained an impressive following of 50,000 supporters. Their dignified and well-organized demeanor left a lasting impression on countless individuals. Historian Martin Pugh suggests that even Lloyd George, one of the MPs, was influenced by the Suffragists. The peaceful approach they used to persuade others greatly strengthened their support. Moreover, shortly before World War I began, the Suffragists were in talks with the Government about their rights to vote.
Despite facing opposition from different groups, including Queen Victoria and working-class men, suffrage advocates persisted in their fight for the vote. This frustration led to the establishment of the Suffragettes, who campaigned from 1909 to 1914 under the motto “Deeds not Words.” They advocated for more forceful methods like smashing windows, pepper bombing, and setting fire to pillar boxes. Their ultimate objective was to achieve recognition and voting rights across Britain.
The death of Emily Davison, one of the dedicated followers, led to the Hunger campaign, resulting in force feeding in prisons as the members refused to eat while imprisoned. As a result, the Temporary Discharge Act in 1912, also known as the “Cat and Mouse Act,” was enacted. Consequently, the Suffragettes gained considerable publicity and sympathy for women’s suffrage, as women were either dying or experiencing immense pain due to their beliefs. This also exerted pressure on politicians to appease women.
Despite aiming to secure voting rights for women, the Suffragette movement faced backlash from men due to their violent methods and questionable actions. This negative response created a perception that they did not deserve suffrage. Historian Martin Pugh explains that unintentionally, the Suffragettes hindered progress by alienating Members of Parliament (MPs). In 1912, 222 MPs opposed them after an attack, serving as evidence of this impact. However, both the Suffragists and Suffragettes played important roles in making women’s suffrage a significant political issue and raising awareness for their cause.
Although they did not gain the right to vote, both the Suffragists and Suffragettes had a profound impact on shaping the concept of the “new women.” Their activism provided women with a unique platform for self-expression that would have otherwise been inaccessible. Moreover, their efforts during World War I gave rise to what is known as the “Reward Theory.” Both groups demonstrated their patriotism by temporarily suspending their campaigns and wholeheartedly supporting the war, which led them to redirect their previously concentrated efforts towards contributing to wartime initiatives.
In 1915, the Suffragettes held a pro war rally where 30,000 women passionately demanded “The Women’s Right to Serve”. Simultaneously, the “White Feather” campaign was initiated. These actions highlighted women’s unwavering commitment to support their country during the war. Women courageously took on perilous occupations previously reserved for men, such as munitions work (with 819,000 women being employed in this field). Unfortunately, these jobs had severe health risks, as demonstrated by the tragic explosion at the Silvertown factory in East London, which claimed hundreds of lives.
The work provided women with a level of freedom as they earned their own wages. This enabled them to have more fulfilling jobs and, most importantly, fueled their determination to secure the right to vote, as they had no desire to return to their previous pre-war lifestyle. According to historian Arthur Marwick, men who worked alongside women witnessed their capability for hard work and developed a newfound respect for them. Moreover, newspaper headlines began highlighting women as “heroines,” and posters titled “The Nation Thanks the Women” proliferated throughout Britain.
This meant that legislation could now be passed as politicians were able to portray women as “heroines” rather than succumbing to violence. However, there is a strong argument that the existence of the “Reward Theory” is nonexistent. Paula Bartley, another historian, sarcastically views the right to vote as a “Strange Reward” since it was not granted to women involved in war work. The vote was only given to women aged thirty or above, who had contributed little to the war effort. Martin Pugh also suggests that the “votes for women” movement was already gaining momentum even before the war.
In comparison to New Zealand, Australia, or Canada, Britain did not want to appear undemocratic. According to Bartley, pre-war suffrage campaigns were highly visible. Unlike France, where women did assist in the war but did not attain the right to vote, there was no suffrage movement like the Suffragists or Suffragettes. As a result, French women had to wait until 1945 to gain the vote since there was no campaign pressuring politicians. Pugh argues that attributing women’s war effort as the primary reason for gaining the vote would be too simplistic.
Prime Minister Asquith acknowledged that women’s role in the war and their perceived worthiness of suffrage were significant factors in the passage of legislation by 1918. However, it is important to note that the change in attitudes towards women before the war was not the only factor. In conclusion, there was a noticeable shift in societal opinions about women prior to the war, but other factors also played a role in granting them voting rights by 1918. For example, women’s improved education and their demonstrated abilities in new white-collar jobs and local politics contributed to their increased perception as deserving of voting rights.
On the other hand, the Suffrage movements put the issue of votes for women on the political map. The Suffragists gained support, including that of many MPs, through their dignified methods of protest. The Suffragettes gained a mass amount of support from the hunger strikes and gained a lot of sympathy and publicity for the cause. Also, as argued by historian Marwick’s Reward Theory, women received the vote in 1918 as a ‘thank-you’ for their work in WW1. Overall, changing attitudes towards women prior to WW1 was one reason for women receiving the vote but it is also evident that the suffrage movements and WW1 had a role to play.
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Essay: The Suffragists
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Many years passed without significant change until the Reform Act of 1832 when Henry Hunt proposed a political franchise that recognised equality for men and women which gave them the opportunity to vote. He was defeated, however middle class men were granted access into the parliamentary system. (Simkin, 2015) Chartism was the response to the inequalities of the First Reform Act, their protests were intended on being peaceful but turned violent causing uproar in society. (Roberts, 2011) Women were becoming increasingly agitated by their inferior social status during the 1850’s as change was not forthcoming compared to men and as a result they rebelled against their gender roles and began forming committees and organised campaigns, such as ‘The Women’s Suffrage Committee’, formed by Barbara Bodichon in 1866. The committee put forward a petition for women’s suffrage and collected 1,500 signatures, it was presented to the House of Commons by John Stuart Mill in 1866, this was known as the First Reform Act requesting enfranchisement to all householders regardless of sex. The request was unsuccessful; however, in 1867 the Second Reform Act was granted, which gave enfranchisement to men, women were outraged and every year from 1870 put forward the vote to Parliament. (Parliament, n.d)
Women who formed committees called themselves ‘the Suffragists’ and were of working and middle class status, it was seldom that an upper class female would participate as they were content with their social standards and it would be disrespectful to step outside of their privileged status to be seen approving protest and social change. The Suffragists campaigned for the vote to be granted because their disenfranchisement status gave them very few rights and it reinforced the idea of ‘the angel in the house’ and subordination to men. They believed that protesting with moral force, dignity, respect and in a non-violent manner would achieve a favourable outcome. (British Library, n.d) The Suffragists campaigned for many years until 1903 when the Suffragettes formed. Through-out their time numerous groups formed, such as the National Union of Women’s Suffrage lead by Millicent Fawcett, although their proposal for the vote was not granted, by 1900 there was evidence to suggest that Parliament was in favour of women’s suffrage as some proposals had been passed, such as two Married Women’s Property Acts in 1870 and 1882. (British Broadcasting Co-operation, 2014).
The suffragettes recognised the requirement for militant action and began chaining themselves to the Prime Ministers railings, this lead to Emmeline Pankhurst breaking away from the Suffragists and set up the Women’s Social and Political Union, their slogan being ‘Deeds Not Words’. The French Revolution and Chartism set an example for radical action being the only action to gain results. By 1909 the union had branches all over Britain and published a newspaper called ‘Votes for Women’ which sold 20,000 copies per week, emphasising the diverse support for the cause. (British Broadcasting Co-operation, 2014). In 1908 the Liberal government was elected into Parliament and Herbert Asquith was elected as Prime Minister, the Suffragettes were hopeful they would provide support, however Asquith was reactionary and an anti-Suffragist. More force was needed, windows were smashed and arson attacks were carried out, which lead to violent riots and in 1913 Emily Wilding threw herself under the Kings horse at Derby racecourse killing herself in protest of women’s emancipation. (Chevalier, n.d)
Victorian society was extremely patriarchal, this reserved privilege and power for men and gave them social mobility as male figures dominated parliament and local government authorities. This would suggest that the ideology of characteristics influencing gender related working roles could be viewed as persuasive and unethical and there is evidence to suggest through suffragette protests of gender inequality and the change that resulted in the 1900’s women had been marginalised in society because they had been perceived to be the weaker sex relating to their ‘natural’ characteristics and the minority in comparison to men. However, there was no evidence that they could not successfully complete manual labour. (Marsh, 2016)
In 1914 the First World War was declared and suffragette movement was suspended, highlighting that suffragette women were far from unreasonable. The war changed the industrial work force as men were recruited for the armed forces and over 600,000 women took on male-dominated roles, working in hazardous conditions with asbestos, making tyres, at coal mines and at munitions factories, wartime conditions gave women a variety of opportunities. (Brosnan, 2016) The introduction of the conscription Act in 1916 made roles available to women that were reserved for men as the need for workers became urgent, women were employed as railway guards, bus conductors and within the police. Women prevailed in male dominated work and showed resilience and strength both emotionally and physically, this made their argument for the vote more credible. Despite equal duties, women did not receive equal pay, this apparent lack of social equality was the cause of some of the earliest demands for equal pay. In 1918 the war ended and the Representation of the People Act was introduced, which gave men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30 the vote. (London Metropolitan University, n.d) Despite women’s efforts during the war society still marginalised them and expected them to return to the domestic feminine idea, however women wanted more. Suffrage groups viewed the war as an inevitability for which they had to make sacrifices and Millicent Fawcett commented that the war revolutionised women’s position in society. (National Archives, n.d) Male politician and feminist, John Stuart Mill made his opinion clear on female emancipation.
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- National Qualifications > Subjects > History > Higher > Higher History
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- 2023 Higher History Course Report September 2023
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Shaken by Grisly Killings of Women, Activists in Africa Demand Change
The continent has the highest rate of gender-related killings of women in the world, according to the United Nations. Activists accuse officials of ignoring the issue and blaming the victims.
By Abdi Latif Dahir
Reporting from Murang’a and Nairobi, Kenya
A wave of gruesome killings of women across several African countries in recent weeks has prompted outrage and indignation, triggered a wave of protests and precipitated calls for governments to take decisive action against gender-based violence.
Kenyans were shocked when 31 women were killed in January after they were beaten, strangled or beheaded, activists and police said. In Somalia, a pregnant woman died this month after her husband allegedly set her on fire . In the West African nation of Cameroon, a powerful businessman was arrested in January on accusations, which he has denied, of brutalizing dozens of women .
The upsurge in killings is part of a broader pattern that got worse during economic hard times and pandemic lockdowns, human rights activists say. An estimated 20,000 gender-related killings of women were recorded in Africa in 2022, the highest rate in the world , according to the U.N. Experts believe the true figures are likely higher.
“The problem is the normalization of gender-based violence and the rhetoric that, yes, women are disposable,” said Njeri wa Migwi, the co-founder of Usikimye — Swahili for “Don’t be silent” — a Kenyan nonprofit working with victims of gender-based violence.
The feminist scholar Diana Russell popularized the term femicide — the killing of women or girls because of their gender — to create a category that distinguishes it from other homicides. According to a report by the United Nations , the killings are often carried out by male partners or close family members and are preceded by physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Critics say that many African leaders, as well as police, ignore or downplay the problem, or even blame victims .
On a recent afternoon, Ms. Migwi, the nonprofit co-founder, was leading a training session for girls and women when she was suddenly called to a nearby home in Kayole, a low-income, high-crime neighborhood east of Nairobi.
Inside the dimly lit house, Jacinta Ayuma, a day laborer and mother of two, lay lifeless, bloody bruises visible on her face, neck and left arm. The police said she was killed by her partner. He fled, and they have yet to arrest him. An autopsy showed she died from blunt force trauma that resulted in multiple organ injuries.
Wails of anguish rang in the air as several officers carried the body into a police van using a thin duvet. Three neighbors said they had heard someone screaming for help throughout the night, until about 6 a.m. But they said they did not intervene or call the police because the sounds of beatings and distress were commonplace, and they considered it a private matter.
Ms. Migwi, back in her office nearby, said she had seen too many similar cases. “I am mourning,” she said, her head in her hands. “There’s a helplessness that comes with all of this.”
To coincide with Valentine’s Day, women’s rights campaigners in Kenya organized a vigil they called “Dark Valentine” in the capital to commemorate the women who have been killed. At least 500 women have been victims of femicide in Kenya between 2016 and 2023, according to a recent report by the Africa Data Hub , a group of data organizations working with journalists in several African countries that analyzed cases reported in Kenyan news media.
About 300 people donning black T-shirts waved red roses, lit red candles and observed a minute of silence.
“Why should we have to keep reminding people that women need to be alive,” said Zaha Indimuli, a co-organizer of the event.
Among the women whose name was read at the vigil was Grace Wangari Thuiya, a 24-year-old beautician who was killed in Nairobi in January.
Two days before her death, Ms. Thuiya visited her mother in Murang’a County, about 35 miles northeast of Nairobi. During the visit, her mother, Susan Wairimu Thuiya, said they had spoken about a 20-year-old college student who was dismembered just days before and what seemed like an epidemic of violence against women.
Ms. Thuiya cautioned her daughter, whom she described as ambitious and jovial, to be careful in her dating choices.
“Fear was gripping my heart that day,” Ms. Thuiya said of their last encounter.
Two days later, the police called Ms. Thuiya to inform her that her daughter had died after her boyfriend assaulted and repeatedly stabbed her. Ms. Thuiya said her daughter had never revealed that she was seeing someone. The police said they arrested a man in the apartment where Grace Thuiya was killed.
“This is all a bad dream that I want to wake up from,” Ms. Thuiya said.
Ms. Thuiya’s killing, among others , sparked large-scale protests across Kenya in late January. In recent years, anti-femicide protests had broken out in Kenya over the killing of female Olympic athletes , and also in other African nations, including South Africa , Nigeria and Uganda.
Activists say the demonstrations were among the largest nonpolitical protests in Kenya’s history: At least 10,000 women and men crowded the streets of Nairobi alone, with thousands more joining in other cities.
At a time of rising anti-gay sentiments, the protests were also intended to highlight the violence facing nonbinary , queer and transgender women, said Marylize Biubwa, a Kenyan queer activist.
The movement has generated a backlash, especially online, from men who argue that a woman’s clothing or choices justified abuse. Such comments are disseminated with hashtags like #StopKillingMen and by social media influencers like Andrew Kibe, a men’s rights champion and former radio presenter whose YouTube account was shut down last year for violating the company’s terms of service.
“Shut up,” he said in a recent video, referring to those outraged over the killings of women. “You have no right to have an opinion.”
Activists say they don’t see enough outrage from political, ethnic or religious leaders.
In Kenya, President William Ruto has come under criticism for not personally addressing femicide. A spokesman with his office did not respond to requests for comment. But following the protests, his government vowed to expedite investigations and introduced a toll-free number for the public to report perpetrators.
Still, in Kenya and across Africa, campaigners say more investigators need to be hired, judges need to decide cases more quickly and legislatures should pass laws to punish perpetrators more severely.
Data collection and research on femicide needs to be funded, said Patricia Andago, a researcher at the data firm Odipo Dev.
For now, the killings continue to leave a trail of devastation.
On a recent afternoon, Ms. Thuiya, whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in January, sat cuddling her two granddaughters, 5-year-old Keisha and 22-month-old Milan. She said that Keisha believed her mother ascended “to the sky” and asked if she could get a ladder to follow her.
“It was very painful,” Ms. Thuiya said about hearing her granddaughter’s questions. “I just want justice for my daughter. And I want that justice now.”
Abdi Latif Dahir is the East Africa correspondent for The Times, based in Nairobi, Kenya. He covers a broad range of issues including geopolitics, business, society and arts. More about Abdi Latif Dahir