“Women campaigning for change has had the most impact in establishing equality

“Women campaigning for change has had the most impact in establishing equality for women in Britain between 1902-2003” To what extent do you agree with this?Throughout the years 1902 and 2003 women utilised their ability to gain attention by either completing more peaceful and moderate protests ( these women were labelled as suffragists) or using militant tactics ( these were labelled as suffragettes).During the years 1902 through to 2003, the lives of millions of women in Britain improved drastically due to them getting more opportunities to vote, work and choose their own path in life as opposed to the one that was standardised at the time. Many factors affected these changes in women lives including the types of employment opportunities that was given to them, wages, domestic tasks and expectations, politics and sex/ family life. During the years 1902 through to 2003 these inequalities are recognised by women and therefore many attempts are made in order to balance the scales.During the early 1900s it was common for women to work as midwives and they often assisted in home births although the majority of these women fulfilling these roles had very little or no training. Other career opportunities in the early 1900s included nursing, teaching or domestic service. This is a prime example of the limitations placed upon women as we can clearly see that every job available to them involved either children or housework which were viewed as a woman’s main priority. Unfortunately in the years moving forward little progress was made regarding expanding a woman’s career opportunities. By 1956 a vast majority of women( 70%) was working in clerical positions, 12% were in a profession and a minute 6% had management positions. These disappointing figures reinforce the stigma that occurred in which a woman’s only employment path was to rely on maternal instincts. However, the legalisation of the contraceptive pill in 1967 allowed women to reject the stereotypical values of being a stay at home mother and with women having control of their bodies, what was to say they couldn’t have control of their career simultaneously? It is said that “in many families it is clear that girls did more domestic work than boys, and they were much more likely to be responsible for tasks such as child-care, cooking and sewing which would undoubtedly both train and condition them for their adult roles”.Source OneThis table shows the types of employment that women were occupied with in the 1920s. As we can see, there are a staggering amount of women who were employed as domestic servants, which evidences the fact that women’s work was also applicable to their household jobs such as cooking and cleaning. There are a surprising amount of teachers, however upon further research, it is discovered that the majority of women teaching taught in primary schools and rarely had the opportunities to move up the ranks. Therefore, this evidences the fact that in this time period women had little job opportunities and most of them revolved around domestic service.Over the course of the first world war (1914) mens jobs were occupied by women whilst they were fighting. When the realisation hit that they were doing the exact same jobs that men did but were being payed less, they drew attention to this issue by pursuing a number of strikes.One of the earliest recorded strikes occurred in 1918 by women tram and bus conductors. The end result of this strike was women receiving a settlement bonus that would equal out their wages to men. Therefore, in 1918 women achieved equal wages in certain companies by utilising peaceful protests. This is an early example of women persisting for change. However, in the 1920s and 1930s the UK still enforced the policies of having lowered wages for women in comparison to men. Women also campaigned against this obvious discrimination. Women’s suffrage groups and trade unions aimed to demand equal pay and became a prominent topic particularly in the 1950s. In 1943, the Equal Pay Campaign Committee was established due to the fact that the second world war clearly outlined the difference in pay between genders in Britain. In 1944 the government established a Royal Commission on Equal Pay. However, the Commission was established in ill will as the government was not prepared to implement a prior vote of the House of Commons to establish equal pay for teachers. Therefore, it appeared that the government was recognising the inequality in pay but were not prepared to do much about it. The ongoing issue of equal pay hit the newspaper headlines in 1968. Women machinists at the Ford Car Plant in Dagenham, Essex, sewed covers for car seats. On 7th June,1968, they went on strike due to the fact that they were being paid less than the men (87% of men’s wages) and, in addition, the machinists’ work had been downgraded to ‘unskilled’. After three weeks on strike, they returned to work accepting an increase in women’s wages to 92 per cent of what was paid to men. Therefore, it could be said that their actions contributed to the campaign for equal pay and the passage of the Equal Pay Act (1970). According to this act, men and women are entitled to equal pay and terms of employment.As well as campaigning and striking, the forming of groups such as the WSPU founded by Emmeline Pankhurst allowed women to band together and carefully plan their next route of action. “ After 1907 over 20 new women’s suffrage societies were formed, representing a wide cross-section of professional, religious and political opinions”.Furthermore, the printing of women’s newspapers was another method which was used in order to educate the country on why women should have equality. These newspapers included the NUWSS (the common cause), WSPU( Votes for women and suffragettes). Therefore, this is a prime example of women not using campaigning skills but instead using propaganda and accessing social outlets such as newspapers in order to grab peoples attention. This was especially helpful as it also increased potential recruits.Suffragettes organised meetings in Clements inn. Their aims were to question politicians and interrupt and ridicule Liberal MP’s in order to be noticed. Therefore, it was not only campaigning that gained women equality, it was also constant persistence and public humiliation that handed them their platform. From here, they had the attention of politicians, who were desperate to find a solution to these issues. The WSPU decided to attempt to get parliament to promise that their vote would be considered( 23rd October 1906) and when they were rejected several women stood up to make speeches, with others linking arms and forming a unit to protect them. Ten women were arrested and chose to go to prison for 2 months as opposed to paying a fine. This majorly boosted the WSPU’s publicity and again was a form of attracting new members to help fight their cause. This means that the suffragette’s made intelligent decisions in order to boost their members and also create awareness as to what they were doing. Women were prepared to suffer and wait in jail as opposed to taking a fine in order to show they were serious about their cause. Men had a large impact on the equality of women in Britain between 1902- 2003 due to the fact that women had the potential to destroy their politics if men allowed them votes. In 1906, The Liberal party won the election, breaking the long- lasting reign of the Conservatives. For example, the liberal party believed women should be allowed to vote, however they worried that the women would vote for their opponents. Men would only allow women equality as long as it benefitted them. Suffragettes organised meetings in Clements inn. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman died in the April of 1908 and was replaced by Herbert Henry Asquith as the leader of the Liberal government. He was a prime example of opposition to the women’s suffrage movement, however he gave them the opportunity to prove themselves and potentially consider bringing their fight for women votes to parliament. The suffragettes created two colossal demonstrations in London which over 10,000 women participated in, The NUWSS ensured that as many people attended as possible and even paid for poorer women’s train fares in order to boost their number count. Another demonstration was held on Sunday 21st June 1908 in Hyde park ( more formally named as “ Women’s Sunday”). Sunday was specifically chosen so that employed women could attend, again boosting their numbers. “ Over 700 banners in purple, white and green were carried in seven huge processions to Hyde park” page 25 “ Votes for women- Dianne Atkinson”.Women also took to creating their own symbol and sold things such as jewellery and pins in these colours. This was another form of propaganda and made suffragettes easily recognisable to the public, this was something that was unforgettable. This picture was the front cover of the “votes for women” magazine on 28th January 1910. It shows the emergence of force-feeding and also amplifies how weak and powerless women were against this cruel form of torture by the myriad of doctors that surrounded her, rendering her helpless. It is also captioned with a description that emphasises that the more dangerous and painful version of force-feeding was induced by placing the tube through the throat as opposed to the nose. One of the risks of this is that “The tube can go down the windpipe, instead of the esophagus. And forcing food into someone’s lungs can cause pneumonia, a collapsed lung, or death.” A suffragette named Constance Lytton described her ordeal and said how they were given the option of wooden gags or steel. She said the majority of women fought against the doctors and ended up with the more painful steel gag. Due to the fact that this source is the cover of a magazine, we know it is intended to grab attention and perhaps means that the picture could’ve been exaggerated. However, when comparing multiple articles in which women describe their experiences of force-feeding, they describe multiple nurses and doctors pinning them down in order to complete the procedure. The article cover also fails to include the more gory aftermath as the majority of women are physically sick after being force-fed and were not provided with a change of clothes. However, the first occasion of force-feeding occurred in October 1909 so therefore it was a fairly new topic when this magazine was published, therefore they may have had reservations about including the true violence of the act in fear of it worsening the experiences of women still in prison. Due to this picture being for a woman’s rights magazine its intention appears to be to spread awareness of the suffering women were experiencing in prison.By 1909, The WSPU were established as an official political party. They also had a newspaper officially named “ Votes for women” of which 20,000 were printed each week. However, the NUWSS were extremely low in spirits due to the fact that the MP’s who supported the suffragette moment favoured working for male suffrage as opposed to women’s. The NUWSS was still highly successful with its propaganda however and the paid up membership had more than doubled. However, they feared that the violent outbursts of the WSPU would result in making them lose the support of the house of commons. In the summer of 1909, the WSPU increased the amount of pressure they were putting on the government. On the 29th June a suffragette deputation attempted to meet with Asquith but he blatantly refused her. The women then proceeded to smash windows with stones and other sharp, heavy objects. 108 women were arrested and 14 of those were sent to Holloway prison. The women were treated as normal prisons instead of being given “political status” and therefore they all decided to go on hunger strike. Therefore, we can see that women are actively making an effort to spread their messages but were divided into two groups of violent and peaceful protest. The violent protests proved to be more effective as they gained more recognition and forced the government to deal with the women in some form. However this form of protest also led to women suffering more extreme forms of punishment such as imprisonment and fines.A feminist historian June Purvis strongly believes that the suffragettes were the primary reason for women gaining the vote in 1928. However, she has been very vocal about her disagreement with Christopher Bearman. She states “As a feminist historian steeped in the primary sources of the WSPU, I have frequently challenged such masculinist accounts and got into arguments, most recently with Christopher Bearman in BBC History Magazine. As Bearman makes clear, he does not like feminists and believes that the suffragettes were lawless terrorists who delayed votes for women. Feminist historians, such as myself, he asserts, perpetuate a suffragette mythology – “that it was a mass movement

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