"Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand besides us, fight with us." -Christabel Pankhurst
History has always been marked by past victories that have shaped the world and made it a better place. Momentous occasions such as the falling of the Berlin Wall, the Moon Landing, the Russian revolution, and the formation of the UN have impacted people in lands across the planet.
The women's suffrage movement that mostly occurred in Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and distinct parts of Europe is a major political change that initially sparked havoc and controversy but later became one of the greatest victories of all time for women.
What did the women's suffrage movement achieve?
During the 19th century and early 20th century, when the suffrage movement was in full swing, women around the world did not have the right to vote and were not considered equal to men. Therefore, women wanted to achieve what was rightly theirs and some died trying.
Without further ado, in today's article, we will discuss some of the most monumental events and notable victories that occurred in the women's suffrage movement.
19th Century Suffrage Victories
The women's suffrage movement primarily began in the mid-1800s when women were tired of being viewed as inferior to men. Therefore, to make a change that would garner results, passionate and hard-working females met together to discuss pressing issues and discover ways to be effectively heard by prejudging men.
The following are some of the most notable moments in suffrage history during the 19th century:
- First Women's Suffrage Petition: in the UK the first major progress associated with the suffrage movement begins in August 1832 when Mary Smith of Yorkshire desires to advocate change and talks to MP Henry Hunt about the fact that many women should have a say in elections deciding future members of parliament. Although this petition from Mary Smith was met with lacklustre results and did not reap the fruit wanted, it definitely got the ball moving in terms of raising awareness for the suffrage movement.
- Over 1500 Signatures Gained: the suffragists, early fighters of the suffrage movement, worked hard to ensure that women's equal rights and voting opportunity became a reality. They did this by signing a petition claiming that women should have been added to the Second Reform Bill. What is the Second Reform Bill? The Reform Act of 1867 is a piece of British legislation that validated urban male working-class groups the right to vote in England and Wales; before only wealthy men of certain families could vote. The suffragists received the help of John Stuart Mill MP after 1500 signatures were signed. He presented the petition to the House of Commons for women to be granted the right to vote along with working-class men, but the petition was denied. Although rejected, this was a major move forward for the suffragists since some people were taking them seriously. Major suffragist groups arise in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh.
- Women's Suffrage is Granted in the Isle of Man: the Isle of Man is a very isolated place located in the Irish sea between England and Ireland. Not many things have been spoken of when discussing the Isle of Man; nevertheless, in November 1880, an amendment to the Manx Election Act of 1875 was accepted and women earned full suffrage. This was a major step forward and first of its kind in the United Kingdom.
- Millicent Fawcett Leads NUWSS: the minor developments that were taking place for suffragists, after their respectful yet forceful protests and petitions, made many women want to join the women's rights movement and this lead to many all-female groups being formed across the UK in the 1870s, 1880s, and 1890s. Nevertheless, to unite societies and make a more drastic impact, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) was formed and led by Millicent Fawcett. The NUWSS never achieved the right to vote for women yet through their tireless and peaceful campaigns, major government entities became aware of suffragists demands and pleas.
Learning more about the intriguing moments that shaped the suffrage movement in the 19th century helps all gain compassion towards the women who fought to make the world a better more equal place.
Early 20th Century Achievements for Women
While the late 19th century deserves credit for starting the women's suffrage movement, the most noteworthy events that sparked change took place in the early 20th century when the suffragettes were fearless fighting for their right.
The following are the most noteworthy achievements of the suffrage movement that occurred in the early to mid-1900s:
- The Unrest Becomes Unanimous: the 20th century has just begun and there are still no signs of change for women's rights in England; therefore, the unrest becomes more intense than ever before. Women from all walks of life want to earn voting privileges and be viewed as equal to men. A noteworthy event occurs in 1902 when 37,000 signatures from Northern England textile workers are signed on a petition demanding votes for women.
- Emmeline Pankhurst Becomes a Major Player: in 1903 the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) was formed in Manchester at the home of Emmeline Pankhurst. With the rise of the WSPU, the suffragettes also emerge and become a force to be reckoned with for their more fearless approach toward the government. The suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, crash political gatherings, chain themselves to fences, participate in loud protests, and refuse to engage in censuses.
- Emily Wilding Davison Dies: since the suffragettes were known for their "deeds not words" approach, they were often involved in many disturbing situations. One of the most devastating events that occurred during the women's suffrage movement was when Emily Wilding Davison stepped out in front of the King's horse at Epsom derby. As an active and proud member of the Women's Social and Political Union, Wilding Davison's actions are viewed as an effort to disrupt the Derby for suffrage purposes. Thousands of activists, suffragettes, and other individuals attend her funeral.
- The Representation of the People Bill is Passed: when World War One commenced in 1914, the suffragist movement and the suffragettes' personal agenda to acquire votes for everyone were put on hold until the war ended in 1918. However, it was definitely worth the wait since women all over Great Britain and Ireland were granted the right to vote! The Representation of the People Act was approved in February 1918 to reform the electoral system. It is known by many as the Fourth Reform Act. This bill allowed women over the age of 30 and all men over 21 to vote freely. Nevertheless, women had to be married or be a member of the Local Government Register.
- Women in the UK Can Vote: although married women over the age of 30 had won the victory to now vote, it wasn't until May 1929 that unmarried women over the age of 21 could vote in their first general election. While it took many years for women to earn the right to vote and be considered equal to men in this regard, UK females rejoiced and were proud to know that their efforts had finally paid off and could be enjoyed for generations of women to come.
Achieving the right to vote may seem like a trivial matter for many individuals; however, it is a fundamental human right for people of all races and genders. Determining the political climate is an essential duty that has aided people in doing their part to transform the world and make it a better place.
Definitions From Today's Article
If there were some words or specific terms mentioned in today's article that was not quite understood, there is no shame to admitting that a dictionary is sometimes needed to clarify the facts.
Therefore, without further ado, we will consider some of the most commonly misunderstood words about the suffrage movement in today's article.
What is a suffragist?
A suffragist is a person who advocates the extension of suffrage. Suffragists arrived on the scene prior to the suffragettes and were known for their more respectful tactics against the government. It is important to state that suffragists were not only female, certain men got involved in the suffrage change.
What is a suffragette?
A suffragette is very similar to suffragist since it is a person who fights for the equal rights of women. Suffragettes differ in the fact that they used more aggressive methods to get their point across.
What is the full suffrage?
Suffrage is the right to vote in public political elections. In many English speaking countries, the right to vote is called active suffrage and is very different from passive suffrage which is the legal right to stand for election. It is important to state that the combination of voting and having the right to run for public office is known as full suffrage.
Learning more about the women's suffrage change is a very informative study that deserves specific attention from those who greatly appreciate historical events.