British Suffragettes of the early 20th Century

Carol Roach By Carol Roach, 8th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

I have previously written about women not being persons under the law. This series is about the women's suffragette movement in Britain and the USA.


By 1912, many women were going on hunger strikes and had to be detained and force-fed to save their lives. One woman, Emily Davison actually killed herself by stepping in front of King George V's horse right in Epsom Derby.

The Cat and Mouse Act – 1913

The British government introduced the Cat and Mouse Act in 1913 to stop women from protesting. The Cat and Mouse Act also made it illegal to force-feed imprisoned women. Women who refused to eat were released once they were too ill. However, when they recovered if they did the slightest disturbance they were imprisoned all over again.

The Suffragette Movement reaches America

Protests reached the other side of the Atlantic as women united for the cause. Alice Paul and Lucy Burns protested in Washington and likened the plight of the American Woman with that of German women. The protest was known as "Kaiser Wilson" for Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and President Woodrow Wilson of the United States.
British Women and the War Effort – 1914 - 1918

Meanwhile back in Britain, the War changed the political battle field. During World War I the men were off at war and women had to work in the factories to make the ammunition and to fill posts that the absentee men once held.

Women rose to the occasion, they proved themselves and showed how they could handle the jobs that men had.

Sylvia Pankhurst

Some women decided to cease their campaigns during this time to support the war effort in England, while others such as Sylvia Pankhurst started working for the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1906.

Sylvia Pankhurst continued working throughout with such causes as getting women allowances while their husbands was away during the first world war. She founded the Women's Suffrage Federation pursued their cause as well. Sylvia had many disagreements with the route the WSPU was taking. “She wanted an explicitly socialist organisation tackling wider issues than women's suffrage, aligned with the Independent Labour Party, based among working class people in the East End of London. She also wanted to focus on collective workers...Later she became a supporter of Haile Selassie. She also moved to Ethiopia in 1956 to continue to protest the British government polices.”

Links to previous articles

Women as property: No rights under the law

The Canadian fight for recognition under the law

When Women are not Persons Under the law

Suffragettes were the early champions of women's rights:

All photos taken from the public domain

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Suffragette, Suffragettes, Suffragettes Emily Pankhurst, Suffragettes Giving Women The Right To Vote

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
8th Mar 2015 (#)

An informative article. Women had to go through several protests to gain their rightful place in the society. It's true in all countries.

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author avatar Retired
8th Mar 2015 (#)


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author avatar Dawn143
9th Mar 2015 (#)

This was a very enlightening read! I really enjoyed it!

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