Feminism and Suffrage Movement(political franchiseXIX-XX centuries)
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining,establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights forwomen. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for womenin education and employment. The words "feminism" and "feminist" first appeared in France and the Netherlands in 1872, in Great Britain in the 1890s, and in the United States in 1910. Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining womens social roles and lived experience. Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
Feminist activists campaign for women`s rights – • contract law and property • reproductive rights (including access contraceptives and abortion) • autonomy • voting And so, arrives suffrage that is distinct from other rights as a right to vote.
Types of suffrage.No doubt there are different kinds of suffrage: ▪ Universal suffrage ▪ Compulsory suffrage ▪ Census suffrage ▪ Equal suffrage ▪ Womens suffrage
Universal suffrage-is the right to vote is not restricted by sex, race, social status, or wealth. Ittypically does not extend a right to vote to all residents of a region;distinctions are made according to citizenship, age, and occasionally mentalcapacity or criminal convictions. The short-livedCorsican Republic (1755–1769) was the first country togrant limited universal suffrage for all inhabitants over the age of 25.Then in the Paris Comune of 1871 and the island republic ofFrenceville (1889). In 1893, New Zealand became the first major nation to achieve universalsuffrage. In 1906, Finland became the second country in the world, and the firstin Europe, to grant universal suffrage to its citizens.
Compulsory suffrage-Means that those who are able to vote are required by law to do so. Thirty-twocountries currently practice this form of suffrage.Census suffrage-also known as "censitary suffrage", the opposite of Equal suffrage, meaning thatthe votes cast by those eligible to vote are not equal, (e.g., people with highincome have more votes than those with a small income, or a stockholder in acompany with more shares has more votes than someone with fewer shares).Suffrage may therefore be limited, usually to the propertied classes, but can stillbe universal, including, for instance, women or ethnic minorities, if they meet thecensus.Equal suffrage-is sometimes confused with Universal suffrage, although its meaning is thechange of graded votes, where a voter could possess a number of votes accordingto income, wealth or social status.
Woman`s suffrage is the right of women to vote on the same terms as men. This was the goal ofthe suffragists and the suffragettes. Limited voting rights were gained by some women in Sweden, Britain, andsome western U.S. states in the 1860s. In 1893, the British colony ofNew Zealand became the first self-governingnation to extend the right to vote to all adult women. In 1894 the women of South Australia achieved the right to both vote andstand for Parliament. The autonomous Finland in the Russian Empire was thefirst European nation to allow all women to both vote and run for parliament.
In 1906 in a British newspaper the word "suffragette" was usedto describe women campaigning for the right to vote. At th at timetwo-thirds of the male population could vote. Those who could notincluded: • criminals • lunatics • men who did not own property or pay at least £10/year in rent • servants who lived with their employers
Since the 1860s British women and men had been arguing for bothuniversal and women’s suffrage. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia founded theWomen’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1903 – a more radicalorganization than some of the earlier ones fighting for suffrage. Its sloganwas "Deeds Not Words". While he WSPU was becoming more and more militant the Britishgovernment refused to support women’s suffrage.
Emmeline Pankhurst (15 july 1858 – 14 juin 1928) was a leader of British suffragists. In 1889 she founded Womens Franchise League . This organization set its goalto achieve the woman right to vote in Britain на local elections. In october 1903 shebecame one of the founders of Womens Social and Political Union (WSPU) whosemembers were first to be called “suffragists”. She was widely criticised for her militant tactics, and historians disagree abouttheir effectiveness, but her work is recognised as a crucial element in achievingwomens suffrage in Britain. In 1918 the Representation of the People Act granted votes to women over theage of 30. Pankhurst transformed the WSPU machinery into the Women`s Party,which was dedicated to promoting womens equality in public life. In her later years she became concerned with what she perceived as themenace posed by Bolshevism and – unhappy with the political alternatives – joinedthe Conservative Party. She died in 1928 and was commemorated two years later with a statue inLondons Victoria Tower Gardens.
In 1906 a Liberal government waselected to Parliament for the first time, withfirst Henry Campbell-Bannerman and then, in1908, Herbert Henry Asquith as PrimeMinister. Suffragettes were very hopeful that theLiberals would support them as promised inmany candidates’ election campaigns. Butthey were to be disappointed, particularlywith Asquith, a noted anti-suffragist. Eventhe Women’s Sunday march in Hyde Park inJune 1908, in which 250,000 people shouted"Votes for Women," did not move Asquith toallow a suffrage bill to be introduced.
As suffragettes became more militant, their actions and their treatment by thepolice became more violent. On 18 November 1910 a protest in Parliament Square turned violent and policebeat many suffragettes. As it became more radical and violent, the WSPU lost many of its supporters. In August 1914 war was declared in Europe. The suffrage movement suspendedits activities, the government released all suffragettes from prison, and thePankhursts and others threw themselves into supporting Britain’s war effort. Arounda million women took on men’s jobs as they went off to fight in the war.
In February 1918, the Government passed an act giving women the vote if theywere over the age of 30 and either owned property or rented for at least£5/year, or were the wife of someone who did. As a result, 8.5 million womenbecame entitled to vote in the General Election of 1918.On 2 July 1928, a law was passed allowing all women over the age of 21 to vote.
It is debatable how much effect the suffragette movement had onbringing about changes in voting laws. Some believe the movement’s militancymade the Government more intransigent. Others say the 1918 Act was passed as a reward for women’s effortsduring the war rather than anything the suffragettes did. There is no doubt, however, that the suffragettes raised the profile ofthe issue of women’s votes to that of national consideration.
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