How important was Emmeline Pankhurst in bringing about votes for women?
Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the Suffragettes; a strong movement of women who used violence and intimidation in an effort to win women the vote. Suffrage is the right to vote in political elections, and until 1918, women did not have this right.
Suffragists or The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society (NUWSS) was formed in 1897 and led by Millicent Fawcett. This group was made up of mainly middle class women and campaigned peacefully to win the right to vote in political elections for women.
Suffragettes or The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) was formed in 1903 and led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Their idea of helping to bring votes for women was to use forceful methods to get themselves noticed and receive more publicity. They showed dedication to getting women the vote by using violence; heckling politicians and holding marches; members chained themselves to railings, attacked policemen, broke windows, slashed paintings, set fire to buildings through bombs and went on hunger strike when they were sent to prison. They gained a lot of sympathy when on hunger strike, and were force fed. One suffragette, Emily Davison, ran out in front of the king’s horse during the 1913 Derby and was killed.
The violence of the militant tactics used by the Suffragettes and the fact that they were prepared to face violent opposition and imprisonment demonstrated their commitment to the issue of women’s suffrage. While many women did not agree with these tactics, they became sympathetic to the cause behind the tactics. As a result of this is there was an increase in the number of women joining women’s suffrage organisations, although mainly the non-militant more peaceful organisation of the Suffragists whose membership grew from 12,000 in 1909 to 50,000 in 1914.
Prior to the antics of Emmeline Pankhurst’s Suffragettes, the Suffragists were unheard of but the uproar caused by the...