The issue of women’s rights was a serious matter at the beginning of the 20th century. Women around the world were deprived of property rights and proper education. Moreover, at that time, women were not legally protected in divorce and child custody cases. All these problems stimulated the Suffrage Movement, which began in Britain. Their initial demand was giving women voting rights, as the lack of them was considered the most prominent problem. Suffragists in Britain resisted the traditional views of women’s roles in family and society and successfully encountered many challenges during their battle for rights to vote and economic independence.
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The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century changed the way the economy worked, and more women started to work in factories, while still taking care of the household. Over the years, they realized the need to unite in order to fight for their rights and created several Suffragette organizations. One of the most famous unions was the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which was formed by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia (Remy-Hébert 5).
The main agenda of WSPU was to accelerate the process of women’s emancipation and hold the government accountable for the delays. Their campaign, however, included militant tactics, such as demonstrations, property destruction, which did not harm civilians and was aimed mostly for publicity. However, the British government and police were not pleased with these actions; thus, they began to imprison suffragettes. Nevertheless, even when arrested, suffragettes organized hunger strikes to protest the imprisonment and to draw public attention.
The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain triumphed when the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 was passed. This Act gave all women aged over 21 years the right to vote. This was a major event in Britain that set an example to women in other countries. Despite all the challenges and acts of violence that suffragettes had to experience, in the end, women obtained the right to participate in politics, for the first time in British history.
Remy-Hébert, Brigitte. “The first women’s movement.” Suffragist struggles in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 2016. Web.