Life before women won the vote

Before 1918 women had almost no role in \British Politics, they did not have the right to vote. A womens role was domestic, encompassing little outside having children and taking care of the home after she was married and stayed with her parents before that time.
The suffragettes changed this.The 19th century was a period of massive change. The Industrial revolution, numerous reforms including the abolition of slavery in 1833 saw society changed forever. Women did see some progress in 1859 the first female doctor was registered. In 1878 women could graduate from university and in 1882 women were allowed to keep inherited property and wages but they still could not vote.
Campaigns for womens rights including the right to vote started around the mid 19th century after Mary Smith deleivered the first womens suffregette petition to parliament in 1832. But it wasnt really until 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Womens Suffrage Societies that the campaign for womens suffrage gained momentum.They believed petitions and peaceful protests were the key to success. But they failed to get results and decided a more militant approach was needed.
In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst and her two daughters Christabel and Sylvia set up the Womans Political and social Union in Manchester with its slogan ‘deeds not words’. These woman became known as suffragettes and soon made headlines.
Suffragettes were a shock to Edwardian society. They interupted political meetings and chained themselves to railings yelled and waved banners emblazoned with VOTES FOR WOMEN. They were regularly arrested, went on hunger strike and cut phone lines.
But the suffragettes fight paid off. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act was passed, giving women over the age of thirty and who earned a certain amount of property, the right to vote. It would be a further 10 years until the vote was extended to all women when the Equal Franchise Act was passed.

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