History essay: How far had the political position of women changed between 1850 – 1914?
The political position of women had improved quite significantly from 1850 - 1914. Although this was an improvement, to what extent and how successful it was is largely debated. Firstly, women’s involvement in politics, until 1918, was limited to only a local level. Secondly, women’s involvement in political events and public life seemed to gain more support from the public to the female suffrage campaign. Finally, female suffrage was beginning to become a heated discussion in parliament as women were desperate to get the vote, in order to stand up for their own rights and gain equality with men. This lead to the development of the WSPU and its militancy of the suffragettes, which could be seen as a “barrier” of the progression of the political position of women. By analyzing these 3 issues, I will demonstrate the argument of “how far” the political position of women had changed between 1850 – 1914. Womens limited involvement in public life and politics created additional pressure for the vote. The introduction of the 1870 Education Act made elementary education compulsory for all members of society, providing women with ever increasing educational opportunities, and also women were able to vote and be elected onto school boards. Also, the Poor Law ( a system of poor relief which developed in England and Wales in the late medieval and Tudor era) offered involvement for women. There was no actual law preventing women from becoming poor law guardians, provided they owned enough property, but it seems that they did not move officially into this field of public service until towards the end of the century. By 1901, there were about 1000 female guardians of the poor, Emma Sheppard who was a middle classed women being one of them, distributed throughout some 500 poor law unions. This therefore shows that Women were determined to gain the vote through patriotism and doing what...
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