The Importance of the First World War in Achieving Votes for Women in 1918

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The Importance of the First World War in Achieving Votes for Women in 1918

The First World War had a serious effect on womens suffrage. Just as Britain was going to war against Germany in August 1914, the WSPU declared peace with the Liberals. So in theory the war of the sexes was swamped by the World War. However, it has been argued that the greatest effect of the war on women's suffrage was that women were given the vote towards the end of it. In the past, historians have generally agreed that women were awarded the vote as a symbol of thanks for their war work. As ex-prime minister Asquith says here:

"The highly skilled and dangerous work done by women during the war in the armament and
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therefore, the WSPU abandoned their violent methods and began demonstrating their loyalty to their country and their right to the vote. Emelline Pankhurst even threw herself into a vicious campaign in which the defeat of Germany took priority over women's suffrage. Pankhurst, along with her daughter, Christabel were great assets in promoting the war effort. At home they called for the men of Britain to sign up for the army, industrial conscription for women and the abolition of trade unions. juve1211, please do not redistribute this paper. We work very hard to create this website, and we trust our visitors to respect it for the good of other students. Please, do Meanwhile the NUWSS was bitterly divided over the war because whilst some members supported it others did not. However, almost all of the Suffragists were active in wartime relief work and this overcame some of the divisions within the NUWSS. In contrast to the WSPU, the NUWSS remained committed to women's suffrage. This meant it left its organisational structure intact, giving it the chance to restart suffrage activities when the time was right. This was important, for whenever the franchise question was raised in the House of Commons, the NUWSS were well written about in the press, and well thought of by the trade union and the government in support of women's suffrage.
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