06 Feb 2018

The Suffragettes: 100 Years of the Vote for Women

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Votes for Women (but only a select few)!

At a time when the rights of women are at the forefront of the news, it seems quite appropriate that today (6th February, 2018) marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act came into effect, a law giving some women the right to vote. 

Billed as the start of female suffrage in Great Britain, the Representation of the People Act was passed with a surprising degree of support. Some say this was perhaps in recognition for the vital role played by women during the Great War. Others argue that it was to stem a return to the shocking pre-war campaigns associated with Emily Wilding Davison and the Pankhurst sisters.

For the first time, women of property and over the age of 30 were given access to vote. The rationale for these caveats? The rather condescending belief amongst politicians was that woman over 30 would be more able to understand the intricacies of politics and less likely to support radical ideas. The likelihood was that they would also be married with children, thus again reducing the potential for radical affiliation.

And ironically, many of those who supported the pre-war Suffragette movement were also excluded, having moved away from home as a sign of independence and living in rented accommodation.

Yet the 1918 Representation of the People Act was heralded as a major victory for the suffragist movements, seeing in one political move a leap from zero to 8.4 million women who could vote. Equally however, there were women who believed the act to be a betrayal as it still classed them as second class citizens to men. Indeed, only full voting equality was given to women some 10 years later.

From an educational angle, why not showcase the historical feminine fervour of the Suffragette Movement in Edwardian London? Perfect for Key Stage 3 and 4 History and Citizenship students, combine visits to both the Royal Courts of Justice and The Museum of London to bring to life this fascinating and, for the female population, pivotal moment in time.

If we can help you put together a school trip centred round the themes of History and Citizenship, why not get in touch to discuss your ideas.

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