Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsOn the 6th of February, 1918, the Representation of the People Act received royal assent and passed into law, an act to amend the law with respect to parliamentary and local government franchises. They had granted the vote to women for the first time. This was the culmination of a long and hard-fought campaign by both the law-abiding suffragists and militant suffragettes, building on the efforts of generations of women who had campaigned on a wide variety of social and political matters not just for the vote. The success was qualified, though. Only women over the age of 30 who met a property qualification were enfranchised.
Skip to 0 minutes and 50 seconds Many of the young, ardent suffragettes were women factory workers whose actions it is often assumed paved the way to the vote were still unable to vote in 1918. When the vote was extended to these women by the Equal Franchise Act of 1928, it was soon evident that the right to vote, even on equal terms, as men, did not result in equality in the broader sense. In this course, we will chart the struggle for women's rights, and the vote in particular, from the first mass petition calling for female suffrage in 1866 to the Women's March of January in 2017.
Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds Along the way, we will encounter women who rallied against the social and legal barriers that curtailed women's rights in the 19th century, and examine how women were represented in literature and art. We will discover the stories of pioneering political activism by women, challenging the slave trade, working conditions, and creating opportunities for women to access higher education. We will examine the campaign for the vote, its leading figures and organisations, assessing their tactics and effectiveness. And we will follow the passage of the Representation of the People Act in 1917 and 1918.
Skip to 2 minutes and 0 seconds Looking beyond the First World War, we will explore the causes women were campaigning for, both between the wars and after the Second World War, following the rise and contours of new equality and second-wave feminism. Finally, we will return to the militant suffragettes and consider how their actions were perceived at the time and how they would be judged today. We will also explore the place of protest in our representative democracy and ask when is it legitimate to challenge the legal status quo. In finding answers to these and other questions, I will be speaking with experts at Royal Holloway University of London, Parliament, the National Archives, and the Women's Library at the London School of Economics.
Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds So join us as we explore the history of women's rights and their campaign for the vote.