8 March is International Women’s Day.
Women in Britain were only given the vote less than 100 years ago, following decades of struggle.
Early electoral reform acts had only considered men but by the 1860s, women’s organizations began to demand the vote. Growing political consciousness was fuelled by women’s participation in trade unions, co-operatives and committees for health and education. Some were also influenced by the ideas of writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft who advocated equal rights for women.
The fight to get the vote was not easy and women faced opposition in many sections of society, including from other women. Initially campaigning was peaceful but by the early 1900s, some groups advocated more direct action. This included vandalism, disrupting events and hunger-strikes.
The National League for Opposing Women Suffrage formed in 1910. It used posters like this one to ask the viewer to imagine the consequences if women obtained the vote. Their poster appeals to the working man who has returned home to find his children hungry and the house untidy.
In 1918, women over 30 were given the vote and in 1928 women received the vote on equal terms with men. The 20th century saw an increased questioning of women’s roles in society and a growth in related campaigning from issues such as birth control, access to education and the influence of the media on the perception of gender.
This poster and other items relating to the campaign for women to obtain the vote can be seen in Main Gallery One.
Sent out approximately every two months.